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SHESHBAZZAR (Assyrian [Winckler], "Shamash-[a] bal-uṣur" or [E. Meyer] "Šin-[?] uṣur"):

Prince of Judah, at the head of the first Jews that returned to Jerusalem after the Exile. In 539-538 B.C. Cyrus granted the exiles permission to return. At once a question must have arisen as to the legitimate successor of the last king, Johoiachin. Sheshbazzar must have been entitled to the succession if he was, as Meyer supposes, identical with the Shenazar mentioned in I Chron. iii. 18 as a son of the late monarch.

On arrival at Jerusalem, Sheshbazzar seems to have become involved in controversies with the conservative party. Zimmern concludes from Dan. ix. 25-27 (since no other sources before the time of Ezra are available) that Cambyses on his campaign against Egypt took Jerusalem, but dealt leniently with it, removing Sheshbazzar in some way of which no details are given. Recent scholars have given up the attempt to identify this ruler with Zerubbabel, as was done by Wellhausen.

The following facts in regard to Sheshbazzar may be stated definitely: he is called "prince" in Ezra i. 8; at the command of Cyrus, the Persian official Mithredath delivered to him the sacred vessels of the Temple which Nebuchadnezzar had carried away, all these things being taken back to Jerusalem (ib. v. 16); Zerubbabel refers in the reign of Darius to the permission which Cyrus had given Sheshbazzar (ib. v. 13-14).

Bibliography:
  • Schrader, K. A. T. 3d ed., p. 279 et passim;
  • Eduard Meyer, Entstehung des Judenthums, pp. 73 et seq., Halle, 1896;
  • Wellhausen, I. J. G. 2d ed., pp. 154 et seq.;
  • Winckler, Altorientalische Forschungen, ii. 439, 440.
E. G. H. S. O.
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