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Artaxerxes I

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Title: Artaxerxes I  
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Subject: Book of Ezra, Book of Esther, List of kings of Persia, Themistocles, 5th century BC, Xerxes I, Xerxes II of Persia, Darius I, Darius II, 460s BC
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Artaxerxes I

Artaxerxes I
King of Kings of Persia
Artaxerxes I, from his Tomb at Naqsh-e Rustam.
Reign 465 to 424 BC
Born ??
Died 424 BC
Buried Naqsh-e Rustam, Persia
Predecessor Xerxes I
Successor Xerxes II
Consort Queen Damaspia
Alogyne of Babylon
Cosmartidene of Babylon
Andia of Babylon
Royal House Achaemenid
Father Xerxes I
Mother Amestris

Artaxerxes I /ˌɑrtəˈzɜrksz/ (Persian: اردشیر یکم‎; Old Persian: 𐎠𐎼𐎫𐎧𐏁𐏂𐎠 Artaxšaça,[1] "whose rule (xšaça < *xšaϑram) is through arta (truth)";[2] Greek: Ἀρταξέρξης[3]) was the fifth King of Kings of Persia from 465 BC to 424 BC. He was the son of Xerxes I of Persia and Amestris, daughter of Otanes.

He may have been the "Artasyrus" mentioned by Herodotus 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.[4]

Succession to the throne

In 465 BC, Xerxes I was murdered by Artabanus, the commander of the royal bodyguard and the most powerful official in the Persian court (Hazarapat/commander of thousand), with the help of a eunuch, Aspamitres.[5] Greek historians give contradicting accounts of events. According to Ctesias (in Persica 20), Artabanus then accused the Crown Prince Darius, Xerxes's eldest son, of the murder and persuaded Artaxerxes, to avenge the patricide by killing Darius. But according to Aristotle (in Politics 5.1311b), Artabanus killed Darius first and then killed Xerxes. After Artaxerxes discovered the murder he killed Artabanus and his sons.[6][7]

Relations with Greece

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 from the island of Delos to the Athenian acropolis. This funding practice inevitably prompted renewed fighting in 450 BC, where the Greeks attacked at the Battle of Cyprus. After Cimon's failure to attain much in this expedition, the Peace of Callias was agreed between Athens, Argos and Persia in 449 BC.

Artaxerxes I offered asylum to Themistocles, who was the winner of the Battle of Salamis, after Themistocles was ostracized from Athens and Artaxerxes I gave him Magnesia, Myus and Lampsacus to maintain him in bread, meat and wine, Palaescepsis to provide him with clothes and he gave him Percote with bedding for his house.[8]

Portrayal in the Book of Ezra and Nehemiah

Artaxerxes (Hebrew: אַרְתַּחְשַׁסְתְּא‎, pronounced [artaχʃast]) commissioned Ezra, a Jewish priest (kohen) and scribe, by means of a letter of decree (see Cyrus's edict), to take charge of the ecclesiastical and civil affairs of the Jewish nation. A copy of this decree may be found in Ezra 7:13-28.

Ezra thereby left Babylon in the first month of the seventh year (~ 458 BC)[9] 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).

The rebuilding of the Jewish community in Jerusalem had begun under Cyrus the Great, 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 in 520 BC.

In Artaxerxes' 20th year (444 BC),[10] Nehemiah, the king's cupbearer, apparently was also a friend of the king as in that year Artaxerxes inquired after Nehemiah's sadness. Nehemiah related to him the plight of the Jewish people and that the city of Jerusalem was undefended. The king sent Nehemiah to Jerusalem with letters of safe passage to the governors in Trans-Euphrates, and to Asaph, keeper of the royal forests, to make beams for the citadel by the Temple and to rebuild the city walls.[11]

Interpretations of Artaxerxes actions

Roger Williams, a seventeenth-century Christian minister and founder of Rhode Island, 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, who tolerated the Jews and did not insist that they follow his state religion.[12]

Medical Analysis

Recently Artaxerxes’ limb length discrepancy (longimanus or machrocheir) has been proposed to have arisen as a result of the inherited disease neurofibromatosis.[13]


By queen Damaspia

By Alogyne of Babylon

By Cosmartidene of Babylon

  • Darius II
  • Arsites

By Andia of Babylon

  • Bogapaeus
  • Parysatis, wife of Darius II Ochus

By another(?) unknown wife

  • An unnamed daughter, wife of Hieramenes, mother of Autoboesaces and Mitraeus[14]

By various wives eleven other children

See also


External links

  • ARTAXERXES I a son of Xerxes I and Amestris
Artaxerxes I of Persia
Born:  ?? Died: 424 BC
Preceded by
Xerxes I
King of Kings of Persia
465 BC – 424 BC
Succeeded by
Xerxes II
Pharaoh of Egypt
465 BC – 424 BC

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