« PreviousContinue »
6. And when the princes and rulers looked one upon another, he began to speak about truth; and he said, " I have " already demonstrated how powerful women are; but both " these women themselves, and the king himself, are weaker “ than truth; for although the earth be large, and the heaven “ high, and the course of the sun swift, yet are all these mov" ed according to the will of God, who is true and righteous, “ for which cause we also ought to esteem truth to be the “ strongest of all things, and that wbat is unrighteous is of no « force against it. Moreover, all things else that have any
strength are mortal, and short-lived, but truth is a thing “ that is immortal, and eternal. It affords us not indeed “ such a beauty as will wither away by time, nor such riches " as may be taken away by fortune, but righteous rules and “ laws. It distinguishes them from injustice, and puts what " is unrighteous to rebuke *."
7. So when Zorobabel had left off his discourse about truth, and the multitude had cried out aloud, that he had spoken the most wisely, and that it was truth alone that had immutable strength, and such as never would wax old, the king commanded, that he should ask for somewhat over and above what he had promised, for that he would give it him because of his wisdom, and that prudence wherein he exceeded the rest; and thou shalt sit with me, said the king, and shalt be called my cousin. When he had said this, Zorobabel put him in mind of the vow he had made in case he should ever have the kingdom. Now this vow was,
to rebuild Jerusalem, and to build therein the “ temple of God, as also to restore the vessels which Ne“ buchadnezzar had pillaged, and carried to Babylon.”
* The reader is to note, that although the speeches or papers of these three of the king's guard are much the same, in our third book of Esdras, chap. iii. and iv, as they are here in Josephus, yet that the introduction of them is entirely different, while in our Esdras the whole is related as the contrivance of the three of the king's guards themselves: and even the mighty rewards are spoken of as proposed by themselves, and the speeches are related to have been delivered by themselves to the king in writing, while all is contrary in Josephus. I need not say whose account is the most probable, the matters speak for themselves; and there can be no doubt but Josephus's history is here to be very much preferred before the other. Nor indeed does it seem to me at all unlikely, that the whole was a contrivance of king Darius's own, in order to be decently and inoffensively put in mind by Zorobabel, of fulfilling his old vow for the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the temple, and the restoration of the worship of the One True God there. Nor does the full meaning of Zorobabel, when he cries out, 3 Esd. iv. 40. “ Bles. sed be the God of truth;" and here, “ God is true and righteous,” or even of all the people, 3 Esd. iv. 41. “ Great is truth, and mighty above all things," to me much different from this, “ There is but One TRUE GOD," the God of Israel. To which doctrine, such as Cyrus, and Darius, &c. the Jews great patroos, seem not to have been very averse, though the entire idolatry of their kingdoms made them generally conceal it.
And this, said he, is that request which thou now permittest me to make, on account that I have been judged to be wise, and understanding.
8. So the king was pleased with what he had said, and arose and kissed him; and wrote to the toparchs, and governors, and enjoined them to conduct Zorobabel and those that were going with him to build the temple. He also sent letters to those rulers that were in Syria and Phenicia to cut down and carry cedar trees from Lebanon to Jerusalem, and to assist him in building the city. He also wrote to them, that all the captives who should go to Judea should be free; and he prohibited his deputies and governors to lay any king's taxes upon the Jews: he also permitted, that they should have alt that land which they could possess themselves of without tributes. He also enjoined the Idumeans and Samaritans, and the inhabitants of Celesyria, to restore villages which they had taken from the Jews; and that, besides all this, fifty talents should be given them for the building of the temple. He also permitted them to offer their appointed sacrifices, and that whatsoever the high priest and the priests wanted, and those sacred garments wherein they used to worship God, should be made at his own charges, and that the musical instruments which the Levites used in singing hymns to God should be given them. Moreover, he charged them, that portions of land should be given to those that guarded the city and the temple, as also a determinate sum of money every year for their maintenance: and withal he sent the vessels. And all that Cyrus intended to do before him relating to the restoration of Jerusalem, Darius also ordained should be done accordingly.
9. Now when Zorobabel had obtained these grants from the king, he went out of the palace, and, looking up to heaven, he began to return thanks to God for the wisdom he had given him, and the victory he had gained thereby, even in the presence of Darius bimself; for, said he, “ I had not been “ thought worthy of these advantages, O Lord, unless thou 66 hadst been favourable to me.” When therefore he had returned these thanks to God for the present circumstances he was in, and had prayed to him to afford bim the like favour for the time to come, he came to Babylon, and brought the good news to bis countrymen of what grants he had procured for them from the king; who when they heard the same, gave thanks also to God that he restored the land of their forefathers to them again: So they betook themselves to drinking and eating, and for seven days they continued feasting, and kept a festival, for the rebuilding and restoration of
their country; after this they choose themselves rulers, who should go up to Jerusalem, out of the tribes of their forefathers, with their wives and children, and cattle, who travelled to Jerusalem with joy and pleasure, under the conduct of those whom Darius sent along with them, and making a noise with songs, and pipes, and cymbals. The rest of the Jewish multitude also besides accompanied them witb rejoicing.
10. And thus did these men go a certain and determinate number out of every family, though I do not think it proper to recite particularly the names of those families, that I may not take off the mind of my readers from the connection of the bistorical facts, and make it hard for them to follow the coberence of my narrations; but the sum of those that went up, about the
age of twelve years, of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, was* four hundred sixty-two myriads and eight thousand ; the Levites were seventy-four; the number of the women and children mixed together was forty thousand seven hundred and forty-two; and besides these, there were singers of the Levites one hundred and twenty-eight, and porters one hundred and ten, and of the sacred ministers three hundred and ninety-two; there were also others besides these, who said they were of the Israelites, but were not able to shew their genealogies, six hundred and sixty-two: some there were also who were expelled out of the number and honour of the priests, as having married wives whose genealogies they could not produce, nor were they found in the genealogies of the Levites and priests; they were about five hundred and twenty-five; the multitude also of servants followed those that went up to Jerusalem seven thousand three hundred and thirty-seven; the singing men and singing women were two hundred and forty-five, the camels were four hundred and thirty-five; the beasts used to the yoke were five thousand five hundred and twenty-five; and the governors of all this multitude thus numbered was Zorobabel, the son of Salatbiel, of the posterity of David, and of the tribe of Judah, and Jeshua, the son of Josedek the high priest; and besides these there were Mordecai and Serebeus, who were distinguished from the multitude, and were rulers, who also contributed an hundred pound of gold, and five thousand of silver. By this means therefore the priests and the Levites, and a certain part of the entire people of the Jews that were in Babylon, came and dwelt in Jerusalem, but the rest of the multitude, returned every one to their own countries.
* This strange reading in Josephus's present copies of 4,000,000 instead of 40,000, is one of the grossest errors that is in them, and ought to be corrected froin Ezra ij. 64. 1 Esd. v. 40. and Neb. vii. 66. who all agree the general sum was but about 42,360. It is also very plain, that Josephus thought, that when Esdras afterwards brought up another company out of Babylon and Persia, in the days of Xerxes, they were also, as well as these, out of the two tribes and out of thein only, and were in all no more than a seed, and a remnant while an im. mense number of the ten tribes never returned, but as he believed, continued then beyond Euphrates, ch. v. $ 2, 3. Of which multitude of Jews beyond Euphrates he speaks frequently elsewhere, though, by the way, he never takes them to be idolaters, but looks on them still as observers of the laws of Moses. The certain part of the people that now came up from Babylon, at the end of this chapter, imply the same smaller number of Jews that now came up and will no way agree with the 4,000,000.
How the temple was built, while the Cutheans endeavoured in
vain to obstruct the work. § 1. Now in the seventh month, after they were departed out of Babylon, both Jeshua the high priest, and Zorobabel the governor, sent messengers every way round about: and gathered those that were in the country together to Jerusalem universally, who came very gladly thither. He then built the altar on the same place it had formerly been built, that they might offer the appointed sacrifices upon it to God, according to the laws of Moses. But while they did this, they did not please the neighbouring nations, who all of them bare an ill-will to them. They also celebrated the feast of tabernacles at that time, as the legislator had ordained concerning it; and after they offered sacrifices, and what were called the daily sacrifices, and the oblations proper for the Sabbaths, and for all the holy festivals. Those also that had made vows performed them, and offered their sacrifices, from the first day of the seventh month. They also began to build the temple, and gave a great deal of money to the masons and to the carpenters, and what was necessary for the maintenance of the workmen. The Sidonians also were very willing and ready to bring the cedar trees from Libanus, to bind them together and to make an united float of them, and to bring them to the port of Joppa, for that was what Cyrus had commanded at first, and what was now done at the command of Darius.
2. In the second year of their coming to Jerusalem, as the Jews were there in the second month, the building of the temple went on apace; and when they had laid its foundations, on the first day of the second month of that second year, they set, as overseers of the work, such Levites as were full twenty years old; and Jeshua and his sons and brethren, and Cadmiel the brother of Judas, the son of Aminidab, with
his sons; and the temple, by the great diligence of those that had the care of it, was finished sooner than any one would have expected. And when the temple was finished, the priests adorned with their accustomed garments, stood with their trumpets, while the Levites, and the sons of Asaph, stood and sung hymns to God, according as David first of all appointed them to bless God. Now the priests and Levites, and the elder part of the families, recollecting with themselves how much greater and more sumptuous the old temple had been, seeing that now made how much inferior it was, on account of their poverty, to that which had been built of old, considered with themselves how much their happy state was sunk below what it had been of old, as well as their temple. Hereupon they were disconsolate, and not able to contain their grief, and proceeded so far as to lament and shed tears on those accounts; but the people in general were contented with their present condition, and because they were allowed to build them a temple, they desired no more, and neither regarded, nor remembered, nor indeed at all tormented themselves with the comparison of that and the former temple, as if this were below their expectations; but the wailing of the old men, and of the priests, on account of the deficiency of this temple, in their opinion, if compared with that which had been demolished, overcame the sounds of the trumpets, and the rejoicing of the people.
3. But when the Samaritans, who were still enemies to the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, heard the sound of the trumpets, they came running together, and desired to know what was the occasion of this tumult? and when they perceived that it was from the Jews who had been carried captive to Babylon, and were rebuilding their temple, they came to Zorobabel and to Jeshua, and to the heads of the families; and desired that they would give them leave to build the temple with them, and to be partners with them in building it; for they said, “ We worship their God, and especially pray to “ him, and are desirous of their religious settlement, and this
ever since Shalmanezar, the king of Assyria, transplanted “ us out of Cuthah and Media to this place."
When they said thus, Zorobabel, and Jeshua the high priest, and the heads of the families of the Israelites, replied to them, that “ it was impossible for them to permit them to be their part
ners, whilst they [only] had been appointed to build that * temple at first by Cyrus, and now by Darius, although it
indeed lawful for them to come and worship there if " they pleased, and that they could allow them nothing but " that in common with them, which was common to themi