1. Exposition

Did Artaxerxes believe in the LORD?

Ezra 7:11–26 (ESV)

11 This is a copy of the letter that King Artaxerxes gave to Ezra the priest, the scribe, a man learned in matters of the commandments of the LORD and his statutes for Israel:

Artaxerxes certainly seems to have a great respect for the Lord, the God of Israel. In his letter, he refers to the Lord as God of heaven (Ezra 7:12, Ezra 7:21, Ezra 7:23), God of Israel (Ezra 7:15), and God of Jerusalem (Ezra 7:17, Ezra 7:19). Perhaps he learned to respect the Lord from the faith of Mordecai and Esther, who were both held in high esteem by his father Ahasuerus. He certainly believed that the Lord existed, however it is very unlikely that he trusted in the Lord. The reason for this is that he keeps referring to your God (Ezra 7:14, Ezra 7:17–20, Ezra 7:25) and he seems to think that the Lord’s influence is limited to Jerusalem, even referring to him as the God of Jerusalem (Ezra 7:19). This shows us that Artaxerxes was a polytheist who held to the traditional belief that each city had a deity who ruled over that particular territory.1