Who is the Persian King Ahasuerus mentioned in the Bible book of Esther?
▪ According to the book of Esther, Ahasuerus chooses the Jewish maiden Esther to be his queen, and she proceeds to save her people from an attempted genocide. For a long time, opinions differed widely as to which Persian king Ahasuerus might have been. However, the problem appears to have been settled by the deciphering of trilingual inscriptions on Persian monuments. These leave little doubt that Ahasuerus was Xerxes I, the son of Darius the Great (Hystaspis). The way the name Xerxes appears in the Persian inscription, when transliterated into Hebrew, is almost identical to the way it appears in the Hebrew text of the book of Esther.
Everything said in the book of Esther regarding Ahasuerus agrees with this identification. From his capital at Susa (Shushan), in Elam, the Persian monarch also ruled over Media, and his domain extended from India to the islands of the Mediterranean. (Esther 1:2, 3; 8:9; 10:1) “This is all true of Xerxes, but of no other Persian monarch,” says scholar Lewis Bayles Paton. “The character of Ahasuerus, as portrayed in the Book of Est[her], also agrees well with the account of Xerxes given by Herodotus and other Greek historians.”
What evidence is there that bricks were made in ancient Egypt?
▪ The Bible book of Exodus states that the Egyptians put their Hebrew slaves to work making bricks. The slaves had to make a prescribed number each day, using clay mortar and straw.—Exodus 1:14; 5:10-14.
The making of sun-dried bricks was an important occupation in the Nile Valley in Bible times. Ancient monuments built from this material still stand in Egypt. A wall painting in the 15th-century B.C.E. tomb of Rekhmire in Thebes, almost contemporary with the events recounted in the book of Exodus, illustrates the process.
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia describes the scene in this painting as follows: “Water is brought from a pool; mud is mixed with a hoe and then carried to a spot convenient for the brickmaker. This mud is pressed into a wooden mold which the brickmaker holds to the ground. The mold is then lifted off, leaving a newly shaped brick to dry in the sun. Rows and rows of bricks are molded and, when dry, stacked preparatory to use. This procedure is still followed in the Near East.”
Different papyrus documents from the second millennium B.C.E. also refer to the making of bricks by serfs, to the use of straw and brick-clay, and to the daily production quota of bricks that workers had to meet.
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Stone relief of Xerxes (standing) and Darius the Great (seated)
Werner Forman/Art Resource, NY
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Detail of wall painting in tomb of Rekhmire
Erich Lessing/Art Resource, NY