ARTAXERXES° (Per. Artakhshacha; Gr. Artaxerxes; Heb. and Aram. אַרְתַּחְשַׁשְׂתְּא and אַרְתַּחְשַׁסְתְּא; in Heb. once also אַרְתַּחְשַׁשְׂתָּא; Aram. Papyri ארתחשסש), name of three Persian kings.
(1) Artaxerxes I was surnamed Makrokheir (Greek) or Longimanus (Latin), meaning "the long-handed." He reigned from 465 to 425 B.C.E. The first 16 years of his reign were troubled, with the Greeks attacking his northwestern holdings and supporting a revolt in Egypt which lasted from 460 to 454, and with Megabyzus, the satrap of Transeuphrates (embracing Syria, Palestine, and Transjordan) who reconquered Egypt for Artaxerxes, himself rebelling in 449–48. To end the war with the Greeks Artaxerxes was compelled to assent to the "peace of Callias" (449), which was a humiliation for Persia. It was probably during these troubled first three-fifths of his reign that the provincial authorities of *Samaria were able to persuade the king that the rebuilding of Jerusalem's walls by the Jews constituted a threat to his authority in the whole of Transeuphrates (Ezra 4:7–23 which belongs chronologically after Ezra 6). In the later, calmer years of his reign, he appointed *Nehemiah governor of Judah with authority to fortify Jerusalem. Regarding the identity of the Artaxerxes of Ezra 7:7, 11, 21; 8:1, who authorized the mission of *Ezra, opinions are divided over whether it was this monarch or the following one (2).
(2) Artaxerxes II, surnamed Mnemon (Gr. Mnēmōn, "the Rememberer"), reigned from 404 to 359 B.C.E. Artaxerxes II lost Egypt in 401 B.C.E. (the Jews of *Elephantine dated documents by his regnal years down to Jan. 18, 401 B.C.E.). So far from ever recovering it, he nearly lost all of Western Asia as well, since the revolting western satraps, relying on the Egyptian army which the Egyptian king Tachos led into Syria to aid them, invaded Mesopotamia. However, a revolt in Egypt compelled Tachos to abandon his allies and surrender, and Artaxerxes II reconquered the western satrapies. A growing number of scholars date Ezra's mission in the seventh year of his reign, 398/97 B.C.E.
(3) Artaxerxes III, a son of the preceding, surnamed Ochus by modern writers, because the Greeks, for some reason, refer to him as Okhos, reigned from 354 to 338 B.C.E. He had to quell revolts everywhere, and failure in his first attempt to reconquer Egypt (352–50) may have given the impetus to the revolt (350–45?) of King Tennes of Sidon. Artaxerxes burned the city down and put Tennes to death. In 344/43, a second attempt to reconquer Egypt was successful.
Several Church Fathers report that Ochus exiled a large number of Jews to Hyrcania, the region south of the Caspian Sea, and Paulus Orosius (fifth century), the author of a world history, and George the Syncellus (d. c. 810), a Byzantine chronicler, connect this action with his campaign against Egypt. It has naturally been surmised that this means the first campaign against Egypt and that the ensuing rebellion of Sidon also affected Palestine. D. Barag has sought confirmation for this hypothesis in the archaeology of Palestine and has called attention to seven sites, from Hazor in the north to Jericho in the south, the occupation of which was interrupted – in some cases, terminated – near the end of the Persian period. Although the archaeological evidence alone does not rule out the attribution of this abandonment to the advance of Alexander,
A "Hyrcanian exile" such as is reported by the Church Fathers is unknown in Jewish tradition. Nevertheless, there may be a connection between it and the fact that the proper name Hyrcanus is attested among the Jews as early as the third century B.C.E. (II Macc. 3:11).
N.C. Hirschy, Artaxerxes III Ochus and his Reign (1909); E. Drioton and J. Vandier, Les peuples de l'orient méditerranéen, 2 (19523), 62; Barag, in: BASOR, 183 (1966), 6–12; Bright, Hist, 356–93; Noth, Hist Isr, 316–37; R.G. Kent, Old Persian (19532), 153–6; R.N. Fyre, The Heritage of Persia (1962), index; H.T. Olmstead, History of the Persian Empire (1948), index.
[Harold Louis Ginsberg]
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.