Persian Empire Map
Persian Empire map in the time of King Xerxes and Queen Esther, when the ACHAEMENID DYNASTY ruled the empire, 522 BC-486 BC. The writer of the Bible Book of Esther uses the Hebrew version of Xerxes’ name: Ahasuerus. It’s a bit like the difference between the English name of “Stephen” showing up in Spanish as “Esteban.” Xerxes the Great reigned from 486 BC until his top bodyguard assassinated him in 465 BC. He’s the king perhaps best known for defeating King Leonidas of Sparta at the Battle of Thermopylae and then destroying Athens and taking control of mainland Greece. Xerxes later left and took his army home. But many scholars say this Xerxes is fictional—a weak-minded caricature of the powerful ruler. Media was a nation of people known as the Medes. They united with the Persians to defeat the Babylonian Empire. They lived in what is now northern Iran, just south of the Caspian Sea. Mount Ararat lies within this region. That’s where a Bible writer says Noah’s boat ran aground after the Great Flood (Genesis 8:4) When Xerxes through a seven-day drinking party for his leaders, Queen Vashti, his wife before Esther, through a party for the wives. Women of nobility didn’t typically go to drinking parties with the men. Dancing ladies went there as entertainment. So, it would make sense for the queen to host the wives of the men. There’s no known mention of Queen Vashti in ancient Persian history outside of the Bible. That’s one of several reasons some scholars say this story is fictional and intended to teach readers a lesson about courage and justice and resilience of the Jewish people. The king ordered his wife to come to the party, which she refused. The king’s wife was reserved for the king’s eyes only—for no other man. So, what self-respecting queen would put herself on display as a trophy wife in a room full of men on a seven-day drunk? She tried to protect her honor and possibly the honor of her husband, who was too drunk to realize that he was embarrassing himself. On the advice of his legal experts, he banned Vashti from ever coming to see him again. Then he went on a hunt for a beautiful wife. His people found Esther, a young Jew.
Map of Esther's Persian Empire