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ed his seven chamberlains to bring queen Vashti before him with the crown royal on her head, that he might shew to the princes and people her beauty; for she was exceeding fair. But for her thus to shew herself in such an assembly, beingh contrary to the usage of the Persians, and appearing to her (as indeed it was very indecent, and much unbecoming the modesty of a lady, as well as the dignity of her station, she refused to comply herewith, and would not come; whereon the king, being very much incensed, called his seven counsellors to take advice with them about it, who fearing this might be of ill example through the whole empire, in encouraging women to contemn and disobey their husbands, advised that the king should put Vashti away for ever from him, and give her royal state to another that should be better than she, and by his royal edict give command throughout the whole empire, that all wives should pay honour and obedience to their husbands, and that every man should bear rule in his own house. Which advice pleasing the king, he commanded it accordingly to be put in execution, and Vashti never more after that came again into the king's presence: for the decree wereby she was removed from him was registered among the laws of the Medes and Persians, and therefore it could never again be altered. After this, orders were given out through the whole empire, for the gathering together to the palace at Shushan all the fair virgins in every province, that out of them one might be chosen whom the king should best like, to be made queen in her place.
Ati the time when this collection of virgins was made, there lived in Shushan a certain Jew, named Mordecai, who was of the descendants of those who had been carried captive to Babylon with Jeconiah king of Judah, and, by his attendance at the king's gate, seems to have been one of the porters of the royal palace. He having no children, did breed up Hadassah, bis uncle's daughter, and adopted her for his own.
her for his own. This young woman, h Josephus Antiq. lib. 11, c. 6. i Esther ïi. Josephus Antıq. lib. 11, c. 6.
being very beautiful and fair, was made choice of among other virgins on this occasion, and was carried to the king's palace, and there committed to the care of Hegai the king's chamberlain, who was appointed to have the custody of these virgins; whom she pleased so well by her good carriage, that he shewed her favour before all the other virgins under his care; and therefore he assigned her the best apartment of the house, and provided her of the first with those things that were requisite for her purification. For the custom was, that every virgin thus taken into the palace for the king's use, was to go through a course of purification by sweet oils and perfumes for a whole year; and therefore Hadassah having been by the favour of the chamberlain, of the earliest provided with these things, was one of the first that was prepared and made ready for the king's bed, and therefore was one of the soonest that was called to it. The term therefore of her purification being ac
complished, her turn came to go in unto the Art. 466: king, who was so well pleased with her, that
he often again called her by name; which he used not to do, but to those only of his women whom he was much delighted with. From this time she seems to have had the name of Esther; for it is of a Persian original; the signification of it is not now known
Thek Egyptians being very impatient of a foreign yoke, in order to deliver themselves from it, rebelled against Artaxerxes, and, making Inarus prince of the Lybians, their king, called in the Athenians to their assistance, who, having then a fleet of two hundred sail at Cyprus, gladly laid hold of the invitation, and forthwith sailed for Egypt, looking on this as a favourable opportunity for the crushing of the Persian power, by driving them out of that country.
Artaxerxes, on the hearing of this revolt,' made ready an army of three hundred thousand men for the suppressing of it, proposing himself to march into Egypt at the head of them; but being dissuaded from & Thucydides, lib. 1. Ctesias. I Diodorus Siculus, lib. 11. Ctesiag.
person in this expedition, he committed it to the care of Achæmenides, one of his brothers. Herodotusm and Diodorus Siculus" say, that it was Achæmines, the brother of Xerxes, and uncle of Artaxerxes, the same who afore had the government of Egypt in the beginning of the reign of Xerxes, that had the conduct of this war: but herein they were deceived by the similitude of the names; for it ap pears by Ctesias, that he was the son of Hamestris, whom Artaxerxes sent with his army into Egypt.
Achæmenides, being arrived in Egypt with his numerous army, encamped on the river Nile.
An. 459. In the interim,o the Athenians having beaten the Persian fleet at sea, and destroyed or taken fifty of their ships, sailed up the Nile, and, having landed their forces, under the command of Charitimis, their general, joined Inarus and the Egyptians ; whereon, falling on Achæmenides with their joint forces, they overthrew him in a great battle, killing one hundred thousand of his men, and among them Achæmenides himself. The remainder fled to Memphis, where the victors pursuing them, took two parts of the town: but the Persians securing themselves in the third, called the white wall, which was by much the largest and the strongest part, there suffered a siege of near three years; during all which time they valiantly defended themselves against their assailants, till at length they were succoured by those who were sent to their relief.
Artaxerxes having received an account of the defeat of his army in Egypt, and what part the Athenians bore in the effecting of it, in order to divert their forces from being thus employed against him,” he sent an ambassador to the Lacedæmonians, with great sums of money, to induce them to make war upon the Athenians; but, they not being by any means to be wrought to it, Artaxerxes resolved to endeavour this diversion another way, by sending himself an army into Attica, with Themistocles at the head of it; which he thought could not fail of making them recall their forces out of Egypt, because then they would need them at home for their own defence. And 9accordingly orders were sent to Themistocles to prepare for the expedition; and an army and a fleet were drawing towards the Ionian coast to be committed to his conduct for this purpose. But Themistocles not knowing how to decline the command, by reason of the great benefits he had received from the king, and the promises he had made of serving him on such occasion, and, on the other hand, abhorring the bringing of a war upon his country, to extricate himself from this difficulty, resolved to put an end to his life; and therefore, inviting all his friends together, and having sacrificed a bull, he drank a large draught of his blood, and so died. But' there are others that say, this was done not so much out of a love to his country, as out of a fear of encountering the valour and good fortune of Cimon, who, being then general of the Athenians, carried victory with him wherever he went. But, had this been all the matter, $0 wise and valiant a man would have seen enough in this case not to have run upon so fatal a resolution. It is possible he might have beaten Cimon ; if not, it would have been time enough for him to have saved his credit this way, by dying in battle when vanquished; and therefore he needed not to have anticipated it by a poisonous draught. In the interim, Artabazus governour of Cilicia, and Megabyzus governour of Sy. ria, were ordered to get ready an army for the relief of those who were besieged in the white wall, and for the carrying on of the Egyptian war.
An. 458. Artax. 7.
m Herodot. lib. 3, et lib. 7.
n Diodorus Siculus, lib. 11. o Thucydides, lib. 1. Ctesias. Diodorus Siculus, lib. 11. p Thucydides, lib. 1. Diodorus Siculus, lib. 11.
This Megabyzust was the son of Zopyrus, and had been one of the generals that commanded in the army which Xerxes led into Greece, whose daughter Amytis he had married; but she having very much abused his bed by her frequent adulteries, which she was very infamously addicted to, he grew very much disgusted at it; and that not only with her, but also with the whole royal family, where perchance she found too much countenance in her crime, especially from her mother, who was as infamously guilty of it as herself. This induced Artabanus to communicate to him the plot, which he had contrived against the life of Artaxerxes after the murder of his father, hoping while he was under this discontent to draw him into his party. But Megabyzus, abhorring the treason, made discovery of the whole to Artaxerxes, and gave him that counsel, which put him in the way to get rid of this danger. And, after the death of Artabanus, he headed the king's forces against the partisans of the traitor; and it was chiefly by his valour and conduct, that they were suppressed, and Artaxerxes secured on the throne ; and, in the accomplishing of this, he received a dangerous wound, of which he very difficultly recovered. By all which merit he very deservedly obtained the first place in the king's favour, and therefore was chiefly confided on in this important commission for the reduction of Egypt.
q Plutarchus in Themistocle.
Thucydides, lib. 1. Diodorus, lib. 11. Ctesias.
In the beginning of this yearu Ezra obtained of king Artaxerxes, and his seven chief counsellors, a very ample commission for his return to Jerusalem, with all of his nation that were willing to accompany bim thither, giving him full authority there to restore and settle the state, and reform the church of the Jews, and to regulate and govern both according to their own laws. This extraordinary favour not being likely to have been obtained but by some more than ordinary means, it seems to have been granted at the solicitation of Esther, who was now become the best beloved of all the king's concubines, though not yet advanced to the dignity of queen. For it wast usual for the kings of Persia, on some particular days and occasions, to allow their women to ask what boons they pleased, and upon some such time or occasion it is most likely Esther, by the direction of Mordecai, though she had not yet discovered her kindred and nation, asked this
This Ezra was of the descendants of Seraiah the high priest, who was slain by Nebuchadnez
of the king:
u Ezra vii.
x Herodotus, lib. 9.