Do you ever wish you could reach out and touch a piece of history? I almost had that opportunity once (I say “almost” because touching artifacts was strictly prohibited!). I was at a large art museum and stumbled into the gallery that displayed Near Eastern art. What my mind had failed to connect prior to stepping inside was that “Near Eastern art” included art from the lands of Israel, price Persia, pharmacy Babylon, erectile and Ur. I was speechless as I looked at artifacts from history that were closely connected to the stories in the Bible. All my life, I had known that the Bible contained real, true history, but to stand a few feet away from a piece from the walls of Babylon connected that truth for me in a deeper way.
One of the things I love about the story of Queen Esther and Xerxes is the rich history the story is set in. It’s the perfect opportunity to share with children that the stories in the Bible are more than stories but a part of human history. Let’s look at the first verse of the book of Esther:
“This is what happened during the time of Xerxes, the Xerxes who ruled over 127 provinces stretching from India to Cush:” (Esther 1:1 NIV)
In the King James, Cush is translated Ethiopia. From India to Ethiopia—that is a HUGE area! Take a look at the map below.
The Persian Empire began in 559 BC when Cyrus the Great came to power and defeated the Medes. Cyrus later defeated Babylon and found himself ruler of a land that stretched from the Aegean Sea to the Indus River.
Xerxes ruled the Persian Empire from 486 to 465 BC. He was fourth in the line of kings that began with Cyrus the Great, his son Cambyses, and Darius I (or Darius the Great), who was Xerxes’ father. Xerxes is remembered for ruling with a heavy hand. Keep in mind that Esther feared death for going to see the king uninvited. Xerxes was defeated by the Greeks in the battle at Salamis on September 29, 480 BC. This defeat marked the beginning of the end of the Persian Empire. Xerxes was killed in 465 BC and was followed by his son Artaxerxes, but the empire never regained its place of power and influence.
One of the modern nations today that rules some of the land once ruled by the Persian Empire is the country of Iran. It is extremely dangerous to be a Christian in Iran. Just like Queen Esther in the Bible, believers risk death to obey God and do what He says is right. You can learn all about the lives of Christians in Iran with the free book Bold Believers in Iran, published by Kids of Courage, a ministry of The Voice of the Martyrs.
To learn more about the Persian Empire, enjoy this Persian Puzzle printable. Younger kids will enjoy coloring the lands once ruled by Persia and older kids can enjoy labeling the regions on the map and discovering just how BIG the Persian Empire really was!
If you missed the ABCs of Bible Study for Children printable for Queen Esther, be sure to check it out.
Be sure to try some of the activities in Bold Believers in Iran to learn more about the land of King Xerxes and its place in history.
Thank you, Dusty, for inviting me to be a part of the ABCs of Bible Study for Children!
See you next week for the letter Y! Click the picture to see letters A-W.
Bonnie Rose Hudson works as the Executive Editor of SchoolhouseTeachers.com, the curriculum site of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine®. Her heart’s desire is for every child to feel the love of God and know how special they are to Him. She would love for you to stop by her author’s blog WriteBonnieRose.com for resources to help teach your children about missions and the persecuted Church, free history and writing printables, and to discover how you can write for the homeschool market.