Nehemiah claims that, although he never exacted tribute from the population nor acquired land, he still served 150 people at his table every day at which he provided one ox, six sheep, and an unnumbered amount of birds (5:17–18). In this article, I examine this claim against the background of royal, satrapal, and gubernatorial behavior in the Achaemenid Empire and conclude that Nehemiah, in his role as governor of Yehud, would indeed have hosted 150 nobles and prefects at his table every day, serving the huge amounts that he lists. Archaeological evidence supports the claim that satrapal and gubernatorial courts looked and functioned like small-scale replicas of the royal palace. While the official reason for the banquet may have been sharing wealth, generosity, and conviviality, underneath lay the legitimization of the unequal patron–client relationship between the noble and his host.

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