Ark of the Covenant - Bible History Online
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Named from its abundant lilies. Capital of Elam, Cissia, or Susiana. Asshur-bani-pal, Esarhaddon's successor, in inscriptions says he took Shur and gives its ground plan sculptured (Layard Nin. 452), 600 B.C. In Belshazzar's last year Daniel was at Shushan in the palace (not actually, but transported in spirit) when he saw the vision (Daniel 8:2). Cyrus' conquest transferred Shushan to Persia. Darius Hystaspes and the Achaemenian princes made it the capital. He founded the grand palace described in Esther 1:5-6. Near Persia, cooler than Babylon, and having excellent water, Shushan was a suitable metropolis of the Persian empire. The kings left it for Ecbatana or Persepolis only in the height of summer, and for Babylon in the depth of winter; here Alexander found twelve million and the regalia of the great king. After this it declined. Shushan lay between the two streams of the Eulaeus and the Shapur. Canals joined the two and so surrounded the citadel of Shushan. The Coprates or "river of Dizful" and the right branch of the Choaspes ("Kerkhah") flowed a few miles E. and W. of the city. Hence arose its famed fertility.
        The Kerkhah water was so excellent that it was carried about with the great king on his journeys. The ruins cover a space 6,000 ft. E. to W. by 4,500 from N. to S.; the circumference is about three miles. Spacious artificial mounds or platforms stand separated from one another. The western one, of earth, gravel, and sundried bricks, is smallest but loftiest, 119 ft. above the Shapur, an obtuse angled triangle, with corners rounded off and base facing E. The sides are so steep as to be unapproachable to horsemen except at three points; round the top is a space of 2,850 ft. This is probably the famous citadel (Herodot. 3:68; Polyb. 5:48, 14; Strabo 15:3, section 2; Arrian Exp. Al. 3:16). S.E. of this western platform is the great platform of 60 acres, the eastern face 3,000 ft. long. The third platform is N. of the other two, a square of 1,000 ft. each way. The three together form a lozenge pointing almost due N., 4,500 ft. long by 3,000 broad. E. of these is an irregular extensive but lower platform, as large as all the rest put together. Low mounds extend beyond to the Dizful river.
        Sir F. Williams of Kars discovered the bases of three columns of the palace in the E. of the lozenge, 27 ft. 6 in. from center to center, similar to the "great hall" (Chel Minar) at Persepolis. "Loftus" (Chaldaea Susiana) ascertained next the position of all the 72 pillars of the original palace. On the bases of four columns were found trilingual inscriptions in the three languages used by the Achaemenian kings at Behistun. E. Norris deciphered the first part: "says Artaxerxes, the great king, king of kings, king of the country, king of the earth, son of king Darius ... Darius was the son of king Artaxerxes ... Artaxerxes was son of Xerxes ... Xerxes was son of king Darius ... Darius was the son of Hystaspes the Achaemenian ... Darius my ancestor anciently built the temple; afterward it was repaired by Artaxerxes my grandfather. By Ormuzd's aid I placed the effigies of Tanaites and Mithra in this temple. May Ormuzd, Tanaites, and Mithra protect me, with the other gods, and all that I have done ..." The dimensions correspond almost to the hall at Persepolis, Susa's palace, 345 by 244 ft. N. and S.
        As Darius Hystaspes commenced the Susa palace, so Xerxes built that at Persepolis. Both consisted of a central hall 200 ft. square, i.e. 40,000 square ft. in area, only inferior to the Karnak hall, 58,300 square ft.; with 36 columns more than 60 ft. high; the walls at Persepolis are 18 ft. thick; three great porches stood outside, 200 ft. wide by 65 deep, supported by 12 columns. These were the palace audience halls; the western porch for morning audience, the eastern for the afternoon. The principal porch, the throne room, was to the N. The central hall, called "temple" in the inscription as the king partook of the divine character, was used for such religious ceremonials as the king's coronation or enthroning, thanksgivings, and offerings to the gods for victories. It was unsuited for convivial festivities. "The king's gate" where Mordecai sat (Esther 2:21) was a square hall, 100 ft. each way, resting on four central pillars, 150 or 200 ft. in front of the northern portico.
        The inner court where Esther begged Ahasuerus' favor (Esther 5:1) was the space between the northern portico and "the king's gate"; the outer court was the space between the king's gate and the northern terrace wall. "The royal house" (Esther 1:9) and "the house of the women" (Esther 2:9; Esther 2:11) were behind the great hall toward the S. or between the great hall and the citadel, communicating with it by a bridge over the ravine. "In the court of the garden of the king's palace" in front of the eastern or western porch Ahasuerus "made a feast unto all the people ... seven days ... where were white, green, and blue hangings, fastened with cords of fine linen and purple to silver rings and pillars of marble" (Esther 1:5-6). The feast, was evidently out of doors, in tents put up in one of the palace courts. A tular or raised platform was above the palace roof, as at Persepolis, making the height above the artificial platform 120 ft., and above the plain, which was 60 ft. lower, 180 ft. The effect of such a stately central palace, elevated on a plateau, and rising above the outer subordinate buildings, interspersed with trees and shrubs, must have been magnificent.

Bibliography Information
Fausset, Andrew Robert M.A., D.D., "Definition for 'shushan' Fausset's Bible Dictionary". - Fausset's; 1878.

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