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I am studying Ezra. In chapter 6 verse 14 it says "...according to the decrees of Cyrus, Darius, and Artaxerxes king of Persia." I believe Darius and Artaxerxes are one in the same. Therefore, should (could) the verse be read as "according to the decree of Cyrus, and Darius, EVEN Artaxerxes king of Persia."? I appreciate any help on this. Thank you greatly!

  • and by "even" you mean "aka", there are no cases / no other cases one can point to afaik, so I don't think there's a case there grammatically / in terms of the hebrew.. – barlop Mar 16 at 5:16
  • Welcome to MiYodeya Don and thanks for this first question. Great to have you learn with us! – mbloch Mar 16 at 16:51
  • While ba's answer is just great, a simple answer would be No, in Hebrew "and" does not mean "even". However, notice that the interpretations are not limited to plain language (Pshat) and can provide just about any explanation that fits the facts. – Al Berko Mar 17 at 15:49
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The text says כּ֣וֹרֶשׁ וְדָֽרְיָ֔וֶשׁ וְאַרְתַּחְשַׁ֖שְׂתְּא. The conjunction וְ-‏ is used between all of the names, so it could be translated "Cyrus and Darius and Artaxerxes."

As to your question whether this implies Darius and Artaxerxes are two different people, I think that grammatically it's possible that this doesn't imply they are two different people. Daniel 4:10 says עִ֣יר וְקַדִּ֔ישׁ מִן־שְׁמַיָּ֖א נָחִֽת, "an angel and a holy one came down from the sky," where the "angel and holy one" is necessarily two names for the same entity, because the verb נָחִת is singular. So the conjunction וְ-‏ doesn't necessarily imply they are three different people.

In fact, the Talmud (Rosh Hashana 3b, following Seder Olam 30) identifies Cyrus and Darius and Artaxerxes as the same person based on this verse which calls them all "king of Persia."

However, I don't this is a straightforward interpretation of the verse. The verse uses the conjunction וְ-‏ in between three proper names. The Bible is full of people with multiple names, but as far as I know, the Bible never mentions two of a person's names as "[name 1] and [name 2]". For example, Abram/Abraham is אַבְרָ֖ם ה֥וּא אַבְרָהָֽם "Abram who is Abraham" (1 Chronicles 1:27). and Jacob/Israel is mentioned as יַֽעֲקֹ֔ב אֲשֶׁר־שָׂ֥ם שְׁמ֖וֹ יִשְׂרָאֵֽל "Jacob whose name was changed to Israel" (2 Kings 17:34; similar construction in 1 Kings 18:31). Nowhere are they called "Abram and Abraham" or "Jacob and Israel." Calling the same person "Darius and Artaxerxes" is ambiguous and unnecessary if they were the same person; elsewhere in Ezra-Nehemiah (and Haggai and Zechariah), each name is mentioned separately without reference to the other. Reaching the conclusion that all three were one king from this verse alone is a very tenuous conclusion.

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