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    Before he could accomplish his objective of bringing them under control, he had to deal with the Ionian provinces which, though under Persian hegemony, decided to assist their island kinfolk.

    Having at last prevailed, Darius determined to press on to the west and conquer mainland Greece as well. Shortly thereafter Darius died and was succeeded by his son Xerxes (486-465), the Ahasuerus of the Bible (Ezra 4:6; Esther 1:1).

    By 516 he had annexed parts of India to his domains and then set his sights on the north and west.

    After he failed to dislodge the Scythians in the Black Sea region he focused on the independent states of the Aegean islands.

    Ezra 7:7) except for a passing reference to Xerxes (Ezra 4:6) and one to Artaxerxes just prior to the journey of Ezra to Jerusalem (c. This interpretation turns on the supposition that the suppression of Egyptian religion, especially the priesthood, that resulted from the abortive rebellion, may have caused the Jews’ enemies to feel that Xerxes’s policy toward Egyptian religion might be applicable to that of the Jews as well.

    Thus, they felt free to interfere with the continuation of Jewish efforts to restore their community.

    Estimates of the date of Malachi have ranged between the extremes of the early exilic period Arguments for and against these suggestions will be offered presently, but for now it is sufficient to note that the vast majority of scholars maintain a middle position—sometime in the fifth century B. It will not be necessary therefore to deal with the historical background beyond 400 B. Because the introduction to Haggai and Zechariah surveyed the scene down to 520, the beginning of the reign of the Persian King Darius I Hystaspes, the present account of the larger international scene will begin there, to be followed by a brief overview of the life and times of fifth-century Judah.

    In other respects things were hardly more promising.

    But he could not preoccupy himself with these projects for long, for upon the death of his father various components of the empire began to assert their independence.

    After he first resecured Egypt, Xerxes raised an enormous military force and struck out for Greece in 481.

    With the arrival of Ezra in 458, however, it becomes possible to see that all was not well and that reformatory measures were already necessary.

    Politically, there was unrest because of the rebellion of the western satrapies and one can, with good reason as we have already noted, conclude that Artaxerxes allowed Ezra to return to do what he could to stabilize things.

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