International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
ter-sha'-tha, tur'-sha-tha (tirshatha'; Hathersatha): A title which occurs 5 times in Ezra and Nehemiah (Ezra 2:63 Nehemiah 7:65, the American Standard Revised Version and the English Revised Version margin "governor"). In Nehemiah 8:9; Nehemiah 10:1, Nehemiah is called the tirshatha'. In Ezra 2:63 Nehemiah 7:65, 70, it is the title of Sheshbazzar, or Zerubbabel. As in Nehemiah 12:26, Nehemiah is called a pechah, or governor, a title which in Ezra 5:14 is given to Sheshbazzar also, it has been supposed that pechah and tirshatha' were equivalent terms, the former being of Assyrio-Babylonian and the latter of Persian origin. According to Lagarde, it comes from the Bactrian antarekshatra, that is, "he who takes the place of the king." According to Meyer and Scheftelowitz it is a modified form of a hypothetical Old Persian word tarsata. According to Gesenius and Ewald, it is to be compared with the Persian torsh, "severe," "austere," i.e. "stern lord." It seems more probable that it is derived from the Babylonian root rashu, "to take possession of," from which we get the noun rashu, "creditor." In this case it may well have had the sense of a tax-collector. One of the principal duties of the Persian satrap, or governor, was to assess and collect the taxes (see Rawlinson's Persia, chapter viii). This would readily account for the fact that in Nehemiah 7:70 the tirshatha' gave to the treasure to be used in the building of the temple a thousand drachms of gold, etc., and that in Ezra 1:8 Cyrus numbered the vessels of the house of the Lord unto Sheshbazzar. This derivation would connect it with the Aramaic rashya, "creditor," and the New Hebrew rashuth, "highest power," "magistrate."