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Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary


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The book of Esther is so called, because it contains the history of Esther, a Jewish captive, who by her remarkable accomplishments gained the affections of King Ahasuerus, and by marriage with him was raised to the throne of Persia; and it relates the origin and ceremonies of the feast of Purim, instituted in commemoration of the great deliverance, which she, by her interest, procured for the Jews, whose general destruction had been concerted by the offended pride of Haman. There is great diversity of opinion concerning the author of this book; it has been ascribed to Ezra, to Mordecai, to Joachim, and to the joint labours of the great synagogue; and it is impossible to decide which of these opinions is the most probable. We are told, that the facts here recorded happened in the reign of Ahasuerus king of Persia, "who reigned from India even unto Ethiopia, over a hundred and twenty-seven provinces," Esther 1:1 ; and this extent of dominion plainly proves that he was one of the successors of Cyrus. That point is indeed allowed by all; but learned men differ concerning the person meant, by Ahasuerus, whose name does not occur in profane history; and consequently they are not agreed concerning the precise period to which we are to assign this history. Archbishop Usher supposed, that by Ahasuerus was meant Darius Hystaspes, and Joseph Scaliger contended that Xerxes was meant; but Dean Prideaux has very satisfactorily shown, that by Ahasuerus we are to understand Artaxerxes Longimanus. Josephus also considered Ahasuerus and Artaxerxes as the same person; and we may observe, that Ahasuerus is always translated Artaxerxes in the Septuagint version; and he is called by that name in the apocryphal part of the book of Esther. See ECBATANA , and See AHASUERUS .

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Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Esther'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. 1831-2.

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