ARTAXERXES ( dr ' tdg-zerk'sez), (Hebrew ar-takh-shash-taw' ; Gr. 'Apratigns, ar-tax-er'xace, probably, 'the great warrior or king').
It is most frequently written artachast and is the title under which more than one Persian king is mentioned in the Old Testament. The Hebrew form is a slight corruption of the letters which De Sacy has deciphered in the inscriptions of Nakshi Rustam, and which he vocalizes Ar tahshetr (Antiq. d. 1. Perse, p. too). Gesenius pronounces them Artaehshatr; and, by assuming the easy change of r into s, and the transposition of the s, makes Artachshast very closely represent its prototype. The word is a compound, the first element of which, arta—found in several Persian names—is generally admitted to mean great; the latter part De Sacy conceived to be the Zend Khshethro, King, to which Gesenius and Pott assent. Thus the sense of great warrior, which Herodotus (vi :98) assigned to the Greek form Artaxerxes accords with that which ety mology discovers in the original Persian title.
Pott, according to his etymology of Xerxes, takes Artaxerxes, to be more than equivalent to Artachshatr—to be 'magnus region •ex' (Etym. Forselz. i. p. lxvii).
(1) The First Artachshasht is mentioned in Ezra iv:7-24, as the Persian king who, at the in stigation of the adversaries of the Jews, obstructed the rebuilding of the Temple, from his time to that of Darius, king of Persia. This king is the immediate predecessor of Darius Hystaspis, and can be no other than the Magian impostor, Smer dis, who seized on the throne (B. C. 52t), and was murdered after a usurpation of less than eight months (Herod. iii :61-78). Profane his torians, indeed, have not mentioned him under the title of Artaxerxes; but neither do Herodotus and Justin (the latter of whom calls him Oropas,to, i. 9) agree in his name, so that this fact is not, of itself, enough to invalidate any deductions which are in other respects sound.
(2) The Second Artachshast, in the seventh year of whose reign (B. C. 457) Ezra led a second colony cf the Jewish exiles back to Jerusalem (Ezra vii :1, sq.), the opinions are divided between Xerxes and his son Artaxerxes Longimanus. The
arguments brought forward by the advocates for Xerxes, among whom are J. D. Michaelis, Jahn, and De \Vette. are briefly as follows : That, as the preceding portion of the book of Ezra relates to Darius Hystaspis, it is most natural to expect that the next following section should refer to his successor, Xerxes. but Ezra does not give a continuous history, and it is now demonstrable from the monuments that Xerxes I. is the Ahas uerus of Esther (see AHASUERUS). It is hard to suppose that he would have been called both Ahasuerus and Artaxerxes in addition to his regular name.
The authority of Josephus in this respect is very slender, since he makes Xerxes reign 35 years; whereas• we know from other accounts that he was assassinated in the twenty-first year of his reign. This Artaxerxes is said to have re ceived the name of Longimanus from the unusual length of his arms, which were so much out of due proportion that when standing erect he could touch his knees.
In the twentieth year of his reign, he consider ately allowed Nehemiah to go to Jerusalem for the furtherance of purely national objects, invested him with the government of his own people, and allowed him to remain there for twelve years ii :1. sq.; v. 14). It is almost unanimously agreed that the king here intended is Artaxerxes Longimanus, who reigned from the year 464 to 425 B. C. The date of Nehemiah's departure, is, therefore, the year 444 B. C. Some few have indeed maintained (and it seems principally for the purpose of reconciling Neh. xiii :28, with Josephus, Antiq. xi. 8) that the king here referred to is Artaxerxes Mnemon, who reigned from the year B. C. 404 to 359. But Ezra and Nehemiah were contemporaries (Neh. viii :9), and it is diffi cult to believe that no events of Jewish history were recorded between the reigns of Darius Hys taspis (Ezra vi.) and Artaxerxes Mnemon. Be sides this would separate Eliashib, the high-priest (Neh. :1), and his grandfather, Jeshua (Neh. xii :to) by an interval of 139 years, which is hardly possible.