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Old Testament

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Susa, Palace of Darius 5th century BC

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"Now it came to pass in the days of Artaxerxes, that Artaxerxes who ruled from India all the way to Ethiopia, a hundred and twenty-seven provinces, that in those days, when king Artaxerxes sat on the throne of his kingdom which was in Susa, the capital city, in the third year of his reign, he gave a banquet for all his princes and servants, the army of Persia and Media, the nobles and provincial rulers whom he invited to show the riches of his glorious kingdom and dazzling splendor of his realm, for as many as a hundred and eighty days. And at the end of that time, the king (Artaxerxes) made a banquet for all the people that were present in Susa the capital city, both high and low, for seven days, and it was held in the garden court of the royal palace. There were curtains of white, fine cotton, and blue hangings bordered with fine linen and purple tassels hung from silver rods between pillars of marble, the couches were of gold and silver upon a pavement of green malachite, marble, mother-of-pearl and turquoise. And wine was served in golden goblets, each of a different design, quantities of royal wine in royal style. And the drinking was according to the law; no one was forced, as the king instructed his palace stewards that they should respect each guest's wishes." (Book of Esther 1.1:9) Scene of the story of Esther who saved the Jewish exiles from genocide, and mentioned in the Book of Nehemiah and Daniel who both lived in Susa in the 5th century BC, Susa was, at the time, one of four capitals of the Persian empire. The first signs of habitation at the site go back 9000 years and by the Sumerian period "Shushan" was the capital city of Elam, a local kingdom. When Cyrus the Great conquered the Babylonian empire, around 540 BC, Susa became the center of Persian political power. One of Cyrus's successors Darius the Great undertook an enormous construction project at Susa (as well as at Persepolis) to erect a splendid royal palace complex on a high platform. The illustration depicts this royal quarter in the 5th century BC in the time of Ezra and Nehemiah. I used all the available evidence published after 120 years of excavations at the site. The view is to the south-west in morning light.


October 9 2014, 3:45pm








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