Mordecai In Ancient Records

Photo Credit: Hansueli Krapf (CC-SA 3.) Wikimedia Commons

While Shushan was the winter palace of the Persian kings, the main capital was at Persepolis. Today the spectacular ruins of the palace may be visited near the city of Shiraz in Iran. In the 1930’s, archeologists working on the site excavated thousands of official records in the form of small clay tablets. These tablets are known as the Persepolis Administrative Archives or simply the Persepolis Texts and today they may be seen at the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago (very much worth a visit).

Of particular interest to Bible students is that the records make reference to an official named “Marduka” or “Marduku” who served both Darius the Great and Xerxes I (known in the Bible as “Ahasuerus”). Marduka and Marduku are likely variations of same name, Mordecai. These records confirm that there was an official or officials with the name of Mordecai during the reign of Ahasuerus. Further, one of the records even places Marduka in Shushan, where the events of the book of Esther take place.

It is impossible to be certain whether this official was the cousin and adoptive father of Esther, heroine of the Jewish people. However Robert Gordis. a rabbinic scholar writing in the book, “Religion: Wisdom and History in the Book of Esther” published in 1981, states: “That there were two officials with the same name at the same time in the same place is scarcely likely.”


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