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Achashverosh Ascends the Throne of Persia

Achashverosh Ascends the Throne of Persia

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More than two thousand years ago (in the year 3392 after the creation of the world), King Achashverosh (Ahasuerus) ascended the throne of Persia. He was not the rightful heir to the Persian throne, but he succeeded in impressing the populace with his riches and power, and he established his government throughout all Persian territories. He waged many successful wars, until he ruled over a vast kingdom of 127 countries, extending from India to Ethiopia.

The people of Persia, already in awe of King Achashverosh's wealth, were further impressed when he married Vashti. She was the daughter of the Babylonian King, Belshazzar, and the granddaughter of Nebuchadnezzar, the powerful world ruler. The people now firmly believed that the Nebuchadnezzar dynasty was destined to rule forever.

King Achashverosh proceeded to rule with an iron hand, never hesitating to persecute those he suspected of treason.

Many years before, King Cyrus of Persia issued a royal edict which permitted the Jews to rebuild the Bet Hamikdash - the Holy Temple, in Jerusalem.

The sly enemies of Yehudah - the Samaritans and the Ammonites - who led a movement to abolish the edict of King Cyrus, now took advantage of the situation. They bribed the Persian governors who ruled over Yehudah and the neighboring countries, to spread the rumor throughout the Persian court that the Jews intended, with the rebuilding of their Temple, to rebel and free themselves entirely from Persian rule.

Knowing that no law could be nullified without the consent of the king, these unscrupulous Samaritans decided to lie. They declared that the Jews were not only rebuilding the Temple, but that they were also reconstructing around the city the fortress walls that had been destroyed by the Babylonian conqueror, King Nebuchadnezzar.

Since the rebuilding of the fortifications of Jerusalem was forbidden by the decree of King Cyrus, the Samaritans claimed that there was sufficient reason for repealing the edict that had allowed the Jews to start rebuilding the Temple.

Yet they were frightened to tell an untruth that might be easily discovered, and even more frightened at the thought of the consequences when the source of the falsehood would be traced to them.

So they contrived a clever scheme by which they could not be held responsible for the false accusations. As the original accusation was written in the language of the Samaritans, they bribed the corrupt secretaries of the King who were to translate it, to add the words "fortress-walls" to the manuscript which spoke of the Temple. Thus, if caught, it would seem an accidental error in the translation.

The two secretaries who presented the document to the King were Rachum and Shamshi,1 both of whom felt bitter hatred for the Jews. The scheme proved successful, and the Jews were ordered to halt the construction of the Temple in Jerusalem.

Footnotes
1.
Shamshi was one of Haman's sons.
Photo courtesy of Chabad of Northern Virginia.
The Complete Story of Purim, published and copyright by Kehot Publication Society, Brooklyn NY.
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Shai Canada March 18, 2016

anachronisms Vashti wasn’t Belshazzar’s daughter, but his (much older) cousin, by marriage.

The story of Purim actually precedes the edict of Cyrus. That so many historical details have been obscured for so long will one day be seen as evidence of the continuing miracle of this holiday. In the time of Moshiach, the impact of Purim will be as great—or maybe even greater—than it was in the time of Esther and Melech Achashverosh ("mighty and high/head king") – a name conferred upon him (as it was upon his father) by the Jews of Shushan, in their parlance. (They were reticent to use the customary Medo-Persian appellation “King of Kings” in reference to any earthly king, no matter how great.) Reply

Anonymous toronto February 5, 2016

King King Ahasuerus was both wise and foolish. His own siblings would not lend him money, because they knew he would not pay them back. So he entered into financial obligations with those who married his children. He would only pay a portion of dowry and gave them his Torah to serve. The remaining amount was paid at the time of his death. This would lead to discontent among relatives. But it also secured his place in the Torah. And he only pays principal.Lenders were miffed that interest was not provided. But those are the terms of how he operated.His daughters were saved because of him. Borrowers who took from him repaid before his death because he was a righteous man.But all who gave or took money from him were protected in this way and contributed in their own way for Torah.He put the money to wise use because money can be used unwisely also.Esther was the King's daughter and she ended up being the guarantor of all money on the land. Reply

Anonymous Beverly Hills, CA united states of america March 27, 2012

The Persian of Akhashverosh is Khashayar, not Ahasuerus. The Greek and Latin is Xerxes. Reply

An Editor March 16, 2009

Sources The background details are all from the Talmud and midrashic sources. CS is of course free to accept or reject the validity of these sources, but we do accept them.

As an aside, the author of the article in question is no longer alive. Reply

CS Altha, FL March 13, 2009

Sources? While entertaining, this "complete" story does not offer any source(s) for the additional material presented that is not found in the scripture, leading one to believe the "details" were simply made up as is common in television and movies "based on" real events. The main plot line is true, but the filled-in details are apparently from an active imagination, merely displaying "what could have happened". Having read the comments, most readers simply assume that the details have some source and take them for fact, when no source whatsoever is offered. It is highly irresponsible of Chabad.org to make this "story" available without noting what the "extra" information is based on. Reply

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