Persia, early style, 546-450 BC, AR Siglos
Artaxerxes I (465-425 BC)
Obv.: king in kneeling position with spear and bow
Rev.: Long. irregular incusum
Historical - Artaxerxes I. the virtuous king of the Persians
Artaxerxes I was the son and successor of the well-known Persian Great King Xerxes I.
After his father Xerxes I was murdered in a quarrel by his own commander Artabanos, Artaxerxes ascended the throne shortly afterwards. From 465 BC until his death in 424 BC, he was the Persian Great King.
In the Bible there are many interesting and revealing stories about Artaxerxes I, especially in the Old Testament history books Ezra and Nehemiah he is mentioned several times.
According to Ezra 4:7 ff, King Artaxerxes forbids the Jews returning from Babylonian exile to build fortifications for Jerusalem. Artaxerxes bases his decision in Ezra 4:7 ff. on the so-called edict of King Cyrus of 538 BC (Cyrus Cylinder). In this edict, the civil and political rights of the Jewish minorities returning from the Babylonian exile were recorded or proclaimed. The Cyros Cylinder is often referred to as the "first charter of human rights". This clay cylinder was discovered in 1879 during archaeological excavations in Babylon and can be seen today in the British Museum.
The prophet Ezra is allowed to travel to Jerusalem in the 7th year of Artaxerxes (457 BC) with a "number of Israelites, priests, Levites, singers, gatekeepers and temple servants". His mission is to beautify the house of God and re-establish the sacrificial service (Ezr 7:7ff).
In Neh 2:1, Nehemiah, who was the king's cupbearer in the 20th year of King Artaxerxes (444 BC), reports saddened by the poor condition of the now partially rebuilt city of Jerusalem. He was able to convince Artaxerxes to press ahead with the reconstruction. As a result, Nehemiah became the governor of the Jews. In the 32nd year of the king's reign (432 BC) he returned to the royal court for a short time (Neh 13:6).
In Greek sources, especially Plutarch, it is mentioned that the Greeks also referred to the Persian king Artaxerxes as the so-called "long-handed" (Ancient Greek: μακρόχειρ Makrókheir). Allegedly, his right hand was longer than his left. (Plutarch, Artaxerxes, l. 1. c. 1. 11:129 - quoted by Ussher, Annals, para. 1179). It is clear from the different historical sources that Artaxerxes I was primarily understood as a virtuous king. Artaxerxes I even mercifully granted asylum to Themistocles (Athenian statesman and general), who emerged victorious from the battle of Salamis, after his banishment. During his reign, the "Hall of 100 Pillars" was also built in the palace of Persepolis. Artaxerxes, who also pursued a tolerant religious policy, had his deeds recorded for posterity on inscriptions.
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