Questions From Readers
● In the Chronological Chart of World Powers on page 365 of the book “Your Will Be Done on Earth” (August 2, 1958) it lists the kings of the Medo-Persian Empire (539-331 B.C.) as Darius the Mede; Cyrus the Great (Persian); Cambyses; [Usurper Magian Gaumata, pretending to be Smerdis, 522/1 B.C.]; Darius I (Persian) (Hystaspes), 521-485 B.C.; Xerxes I (Ahasuerus); Artaxerxes I (Longimanus); Xerxes II; Darius II (Ochus; Nothus) ; Artaxerxes II (Mnemon); Artaxerxes III (Ochus); etc., etc.
The above does not agree with what is stated in the chapters on Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther in the book “Equipped for Every Good Work” and in Chapter 14 on “A Faithful Few Come Back to Build the Temple Again” in the book From Paradise Lost to Paradise Regained. How can this seeming discrepancy be explained?
There is no real discrepancy between the books “Equipped for Every Good Work” and From Paradise Lost to Paradise Regained on the one hand and the later book “Your Will Be Done on Earth” on the other hand. During the reign of Darius the Persian, not the Mede, the temple to Jehovah was rebuilt at Jerusalem. The earlier book “Equipped” calls him Darius II, because it recognizes Darius the Mede as a historical Biblical character and hence counts this Median Darius as being the first ruler named Darius in the Medo-Persian Empire.
However, the later book “Your Will Be Done on Earth” lists the first Persian Darius (Hystaspes) as Darius I because the Chronological Chart of World Powers in the Appendix of the book follows the secular histories of this world, which cannot account for Darius the Mede and hence which list the Persian Darius Hystaspes as Darius I. When speaking of the purely Persian Empire, or the empire in which Persia had the dominance, Darius the Mede would not figure in the line of kings inasmuch as he was not Persian, but merely the Median uncle of the Persian Cyrus the Great. Because of publishing the Chronological Chart in its Appendix the book “Your Will Be Done on Earth” harmonizes the comments on the world powers and their rulers in the main text of the book with the Chronological Chart in its Appendix. Accordingly it differs from the book “Equipped” in naming Darius Hystaspes during whose reign the building of the second temple to Jehovah at Jerusalem was authorized and completed as King Darius I of the Persian Empire.
Now as regards the Persian kings named Artaxerxes. The two earlier books “Equipped” and Paradise speak of the Persian king during whose reign both Ezra and Nehemiah came to Jerusalem as being Artaxerxes III, and not Artaxerxes I, from the following standpoint.
As already stated in a previous issue of The Watchtower, that of March 15, 1954, page 191, the Greek Septuagint translation of the Hebrew book of Ezra calls the Persian ruler who caused the building of Jehovah’s temple at Jerusalem to be stopped Arthasasthá, but the English translations call him Artaxerxes. (Ezra 4:7-23) It appears that in reality this Artaxerxes was the Magian Gaumata, who pretended to be Smerdis and who got the throne by imposture and usurpation for about eight months. Following the Greek translation of the Hebrew text, this one would be the first Artaxerxes, or Artaxerxes I.
After this usurper there came Darius I the Persian (Hystaspes) and then Xerxes I. It appears that this Xerxes I married the Jewess Esther, but the Hebrew book of Esther calls him Ahasuerus. However, the Greek Septuagint translation calls him Artaxerxes. (Esther 1:1 to 2:23, NW, margin) So from the Greek presentation of the matter, this Xerxes the Great was the second Artaxerxes, or Artaxerxes II.
After him there came a ruler surnamed Longimanus. The Hebrew Bible speaks of him as Artakhshásta (the same name as that given the ruler at Ezra 4:7). During the reign of this Longimanus or Artakhshásta the Jewish priest Ezra and the Jewish governor Nehemiah, for two separate reasons, were permitted to go to Jerusalem. (Ezra 7:1-28; Neh. 2:1-18; 13:6) However, the Greek Septuagint version speaks of this Longimanus as Arthasasthá, and the English versions speak of him as Artaxerxes. Hence, from this standpoint Longimanus would be Artaxerxes III.
Concerning this Persian king McClintock & Strong’s Cyclopædia, Volume I, page 440, column 1, says: “He is the same with the third Artaxerxes, the Persian king who, in the twentieth year of his reign, considerately allowed Nehemiah to go to Jerusalem for the furtherance of purely national objects, invested him with the government of his own people, and allowed him to remain there for twelve years . . . It is almost unanimously agreed that the king here intended is Artaxerxes Longimanus . . . ”
Now the later book “Your Will Be Done on Earth” in publishing the Chronological Chart sets forth the world-power rulers beginning with the rulers of the Babylonian Empire and running through those of the Eastern Roman Empire; and this book does so according to the listing of these rulers given in the secular histories of the world. These do not follow the list of Artaxerxes that is given in the Holy Scriptures according to the Hebrew text and the Greek version. They list the Artaxerxes during whose reign Nehemiah rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem as Artaxerxes I, and the second ruler following him as Darius II.
So, then, in publishing the list of world rulers according to the secular history in the Chronological Chart, the book “Your Will” must consistently refer to the various world rulers in agreement with this chart. For this reason it refers to Artaxerxes Longimanus as Artaxerxes I, and not as Artaxerxes III as the earlier books “Equipped” and Paradise do. Since the book “Your Will” lists Artaxerxes Longimanus as Artaxerxes I, it consistently lists the later Artaxerxes Mnemon as number II and his successor Artaxerxes Ochus as number III.
Thus, in reading the above-mentioned books published by the Watch Tower Society, one must consider each one’s contents according to the background against which it was written. Then what, on a mere superficial comparison of them, might appear as discrepancies are not really such. The identities of kings under discussion prove to be the same according to their dating, characteristics and exploits, although the numbering of them in dynasties may differ according to the order of listing that each book followed.