A Whimsical Dictionary: X is for Xerxes

A Whimsical Dictionary: X is for Xerxes

A Whimsical Dictionary of Surprising Influences.

X is for Xerxes –

An unlikely savior of the Jews; the moody, insecure King of Persia in 4th century BC; one of the protagonists in the book of Esther; was also known as Ahasuerus; his name means mighty man. Hmmm.

Xerxes was a two-fisted drinker who always seemed to party at the wrong time, like right before the making of royal decrees. He lost his first wife by divorcing her after a seven-day binge, apparently for not unveiling herself before his party guests. A few years later, over cocktails once again, he agreed to a plan that involved a one-day massacre of every Jew living in Persia. A proposed ancient Holocaust. His drinking buddy that time was his 2nd-in-command, a bloodthirsty henchman named Haman who wanted to orchestrate the whole mess.

Knowing his love for the bubbly, the Jewish Queen Esther put Xerxes through two days of merriment before she sprang the big question on him: “Will you please save my people from annihilation?” Naturally, the King revoked his earlier decree, and overreacting between burps, executed Haman and his ten sons, allowing the Jews to defend themselves against all their enemies who still looked forward to the massacre of the Jews. That carnage amounted to 75,000 Persian deaths. To this day, Purim is celebrated by faithful Jews around the world, to commemorate their joyous victory over their enemies.

If Xerxes had any wits at all about him after that bizarre chain of events, he would have ordered the royal sign-maker to design a plaque for the throne room that read, “Please Drink Responsibly.” Another helpful reminder to Xerxes would be to follow the example of Mordecai, his right hand man. Esther 10:3 states it clearly: “Mordecai the Jew was second in rank to King Xerxes, preeminent among the Jews, and held in high esteem by his many fellow Jews, because he worked for the good of his people and spoke up for the welfare of all the Jews.”  But the hero of the book is Esther, which is only appropriate. Her name means a star.