Wednesday, April 28, 2010
X is for Xerxes
In Persepolis a statue had been commissioned which depicted King Darius sitting on his throne in his kingly robes. Behind Darius stands Xerxes along with the inclusion of a winged deity. Xerxes used this statue to confirm his oft repeated statement, “ My father made me the greatest after himself."
Apparently Xerxes did not have the military ability of his father. He was urged on by bad advisors to assault Greece in 480 B. C. Unfortunately in 479 B. C. the Greek army defeated Xerxes’ Persian army and Persia was forced to give up all the territory that Darius his father had gained outside of Asia Minor.
Xerxes inherited an empire that was somewhat sound but it seems that he was not up to the task of maintaining the empire’s vitality. He was known to have an undisciplined temper and was morally weak. Xerxes was assassinated in 465 B.C.
Ordinarily, I wouldn’t make mention of such a weak and ineffective ruler as Xerxes. The reason that I do is first, his name starts with an X and second, he fathered a son named Artaxerxes.
It was Artaxerxes who commissioned the Jewish scribe Ezra to take care of the ceremonial and civil affairs of the Jewish nation. (Ezra 7:13-28) Ezra left Babylon in 457 B. C. leading a company of Jews, which included priests and Levites back to Jerusalem. The rebuilding of the Jewish city began in Jerusalem under Cyrus the Great who had permitted Jewish captives to leave Babylon and return to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple of Solomon.
What I find to be interesting is that in 445 B. C. Nehemiah, a Jewish captive, was the cupbearer for King Artaxerxes. One day Nehemiah showed up for duty looking very sad. Artaxerxes asked about his sadness and Nehemiah told him of the awful state of the Jewish people and the city of Jerusalem. Artaxerxes gave permission for Nehemiah to return and rebuild Jerusalem and its walls.
I find this so amusing that a pagan king was used by God to give letters of safe passage for Nehemiah and his party to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the city and the city walls. Not only that, orders were given to the keepers of Artaxerxes forests to supply what ever was needed. God sovereignly chose to use this mighty king and his supply of men, materials, and money to aid in the rebuilding of his city. That is poetic justice
Posted by Gregg Metcalf at 3:00 AM