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After the destruction of the Kingdom of Judah, the Jews were taken into the seventy-year Babylonian captivity. When ancient Persia took control of Babylon, Haman, the royal vizier, convinced King Ahasuerus to destroy all the Jews. Esther, Ahasuerus's queen and, unknown to him, a Jew, interceded on behalf of her people. By law the King could not rescind the order to slaughter the Jews, so he issued a second decree that permitted the Jews to defend themselves with armed force. The King replaced Haman with Mordecai, a palace official, cousin and foster parent of Esther. The Jews defeated Haman, killing his ten sons that were leading the attacks, and then hanged Haman. The day after the battle was designated as a day of feasting and rejoicing. Scholars identify King Ahasuerus as the historical king Xerxes I, 486 - 465 BCE. Xerxes is the Greek version of his name but the Babylonians knew him as Khshayarsha. The Hebrew name Ahasuerus, appears to be derived from Khshayarsha, with the letter A added at the beginning.
|Al Qahir appointed himself caliph after his brother al-Muqtadir died. He was unforgiving and cruel. After two years his ministers had enough. He was imprisoned, blinded and replaced by his nephew al-Radi, a son of al-Muqtadir. |
Hamedan, Iran (ancient Ecbatana), is believed to be among the oldest cities in the world. Hamadan was established by the Medes and was the capital of the Median empire. It then became one of several capital cities of the Dynasty. Hamadan is mentioned in the biblical book of Ezra as the place where a scroll was found giving the Jews permission from Darius to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem (Ezra 6:2). Because it is a mile above sea level, it was a place to preserve leather documents. The tomb in the photo on the right, located in Hamadan, is believed by some to hold the remains of the biblical Esther and her cousin Mordechai.