11318PERSIA: Is Nehemiah depicted at Persepolis?
- Aug 30, 2009The Bible says that Nehemiah was the cupbearer to Artaxerxes I. The cupbearer was equivalent to the prime minister and was in the highest non-royality court position.
Persepolis is a fascinating artistic picture of Persia during the time of Darius I, Xerxes and Artaxerxes. The question arises though, as to whether a consistent court official holding a cuptowel behind Artaxerxes in four different scenes was none other than the Jewish Nehemiah? Pertinent identification issues are:
1. Does the cuptowel represent the badge of office of the cupbearer?
2. The bas-reliefs have a strong multi-cultural and multi-nationality theme, thus each individual has a distinctive garb. The official holding the cuptowel is neither Mede nor Persian. Persians are depicted with fluted caps and Medes with rounded ones. This would be consistent with the cupbearer being Jewish.
3. Is the cupbearer a eunuch? Nehemiah was also considered to be a eunuch. Some have commented that the beardless chin was covered as a matter of shame and thus indicating this person, besides being non-Persian and non-Mede was also a eunuch. This matches the Biblical and historical reference of Nehemiah being a eunuch.
So, is this actually Nehemiah confirmed at Persepolis behind Artaxerxes II or not? Per the Bible, Nehemiah was his cupbearer for his entire 41-year rule, surviving him into the reign of Darius II.
I don't know if the rules prohibit links but you can check out the photos of who might be Nehemiah as follows at the OI website. I have removed the "http://" from the front of the links.
Nehemiah behind Artaxerxes with other court officials (left)
Note here two court officials are clearly Mede and Persian and that the cupbearer is immediately behind the king, signifying the highest rank.
Nehemiah behind Artaxerxes with other court officials (right)
Nehemiah alone with Artaxerxes (right)
The cupbearer alone with the king in two bas-reliefs follows Jewish tradition that Nehemiah was greatly loved and honored by Artaxerxes and was second to the king in official rank. Certainly, this scene demonstrates a special afinity for the cupbearer to be depicted in two scenes with just the king and cupbearer alone.
Nehemiah alone with Artaxerxes (left)
Any input welcome. Thanks.
IBRA (independent Biblical research analyst)
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