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to death? All too horrible. And they meant it, as humanly they had a right to mean it. Another period is to show that unmolested, fairly treated, no man is to prove a better citizen or subject than these Timons of that age. We are to mark them for two hundred years subjects of the Persian. Particularly we are to note them in their new home of Babylon. Practically for them they are to be two hundred years without history. They give themselves up to peaceful pursuits, to their trades, their agriculture, and the collecting, editing, and study of their sacred books. It is then that in tradition and custom they begin to acquire the distinctive attributes as a nation which have since been theirs. And we see them deep in the councils of their rulers : they hold high office and they command general respect. They begin to assimilate the learning and wisdom of this polished race. They are ceasing to be parochial in their outlook. They are an integral part of a far-extending empire. In them we hardly recognize the fierce hillmen of the past. And then is advent of Alexander, the break up of his dominion, the interminable wars of his generals, and Palestine once more cockpit of the East; early conditions revive, and we find the Jew once more centralized in Jerusalem, the same old fighter of the past, but now with a touch of fanaticism to inflame his courage to still whiter heat. In the past, with varying fortunes he had turned to strange gods, but now, save for one brief interval when seduced by the witching charm of Hellenism he abandons Jehovah for Jupiter-to the end he is to know no God but his own. And pre-eminent amongst the nations is to be this God of his holy books, the God of his worship and years are to pass by the thousand and that same God is still to be sole God of his adoration. But it was never given to them as a people to read aright the times and seasons. Under David and Solomon, in alliance with Tyre, they had established themselves as the great power of the East. Under the Maccabees, unless paralysed by faction, they had revived that kingdom and bidden defiance to Rome itself. But to himself the Jew ever worst enemy, such things were not to be. To him temporal power was not to be given. But to-day, in his great traditions, his indefatigable energy, and his sterling qualities, he is one of the great forces of the world. And above all we must never pass by the supreme fact that He who is the ideal of our race and the hope of our future was Himself one of this people, and at a time when it was pre-eminent amongst the families of the earth. Proud scion of a mighty house, it was of no mean nation that our Master was the chief.
FROM THE FALL OF ASSYRIA. 10. And now, as we have said, we are to see the Jew in the one tranquil period of his history. He has been carried away captive, and his captivity has been made bitter to him; but it has saved him as a nation.
This was B.C. 588. Fifty years of this degradation have passed, and now—change miraculous—his liberator appears, and he is delivered from bondage. And Cyrus is the chosen of his God. “Thus saith the Lord thy redeemer . . . that saith of Cyrus, he is My shepherd, and shall perform all My pleasure" (Isaiah xliv. 28), and the goodwill of this greatest of monarchs is to settle the relationships of the Jew to the empire until its close.
And now let us glance at a few of the more important dates of this period. Far different the tale they tell to the horrible times indicated in our prior list. Family disputes, disputes between them and their kin, the Samaritans, and others trouble, but under a common overlord they reach no serious proportions.
538. Cyrus takes Babylon.
salem. Partial return of exiles under Zerubbabel. The other people of the
land would assist. Their offer refused. 529. Cyrus killed in battle. Cambyses succeeds. 522. Smerdis, a puppet king, usurps the throne.
Building of Temple stopped. 521. Darius elected king by fellow nobles. 520. Darius approves completion of Temple.
Haggai upbraids the people, as does
Zechariah. 516. Temple finished and dedicated following
year. 490. Battle of Marathon. 485. Xerxes. Ahasuerus of Esther. 480. Thermopylae, &c. 478. Esther made queen. 465. Artaxerxes. 458. Ezra, with further exiles, goes to Jerusalem. 446. Nehemiah, cupbearer to Artaxerxes, made
Governor of Jerusalem. 445. Rebuilds walls. Is opposed by Sanballat
and others. 444. Ezra delivers law.
Malachi denounces the people. 434. Nehemiah returns to Babylon. 424. Darius II. 404. Artaxerxes II. 401. Retreat of the Ten Thousand. 359. Artaxerxes III. 336. Darius III. (Philip II., Macedon,
assassinated.) Manasseh, son of High Priest, married to daughter of Sanballat,
Governor of Samaria. 334. Alexander crosses Hellespont; battle of
Granicus. 333. Battle of the Issus. 332. Takes Tyre and Gaza, and subdues Pales
tine and Egypt, and founds Alexandria. Sanctions Temple on Mt. Gerizim. Is gracious to the Jews on account of a vision
11. The break up of Alexander's empire and its unhappy results we have touched upon, but from B.C. 538 to B.C. 333 the Jews are to have two solid centuries of almost absolute prosperity. And these are to mould their character through all time. Faithful dependents of Persia, they proved that none could more excel in the arts of peace, but it was as “a man of war from his youth” that they compelled respect. In the capture of Babylon they had done Cyrus sone service, probably some signal service, which no doubt he was anxious to see in its most favourable light so that he might have excuse to favour and attach this people to him. Certainly he could rely on their loathing for the Assyrian. All this we realize in Ezra and Nehemiah and in the happy pages of Esther. This last, whether reality or romance, as some would have it, is equally significant of the the favour they enjoyed. And they would rebuild the Temple at Jerusalem. We read of the magnificent way in which Cyrus furthered the proposal; of the golden vessels taken by Nebuchadnezzar that he restored; of the great presents that he made; and of the regard which he showed. Thus sped on his way,. Zerubbabel returns to Jerusalem. Enthusiasm is at its height; many of necessity have to be left behind, but it is a large band of exiles that join him as once more they seek the land of their fathers. And now the great day has arrived and, amidst unparalleled rejoicing, the foundations of the Temple are laid. And then the touch so natural. “But many of the priests and Levites and chief of the fathers, who were ancient men that had seen the first house, when the foundations of this house was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice, and many shouted aloud for joy. So that the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people; for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the noise was heard afar off.”
And with the fortunes of their Temple their own are to be intimately interwoven through the centuries
to come. Notwithstanding its auspicious commencement, its building is to drag along but slowly at first
-new conditions of life are not instantly improvised and perhaps sentimental exaltation had to give way to the more prosaic necessities of actual life. Such reading between the lines would seem to be the account we find in Ezra and Nehemiah. But a hundred years is to see it restored, and then gradually it gathers to itself the traditions of the past. Phoenix-like it arises from its ashes; mankind becomes more and more impressed until at last it has become one of the holy places of the world. Later on we are to see it receiving presents from every nation, whilst under the Syrian-Greek dynasty there are times when we see Babylon even making herself chargeable with the maintenance of its services. And apparently about this time grew up the custom for every Jew wherever settled to pay two drachmae annually to its treasury, so that it became fabulously rich. Politically as well as religiously it served to consolidate the race, all eyes being fixed upon it as centre of their hopes. In its story we shall find it plundered at times, but until the end it is only once to know cessation of the worship of Jehovah, and this is when, by almost universal consent the worship of Jupiter was substituted in its place. This, we shall see, was about B.C. 170, when Antiochus Epiphanes was overlord, and was part of an extreme Hellenizing movement which had apparently won the whole nation. But it was met by the passionate outburst of a small Puritan remnant in violent antagonism to the emotionalism so much associated with such cults, and in the rising of the Maccabees was found expression of this deep underlying national sentiment. This, as years passed, was intensified by a growing antipathy to their Greek masters, and though it never succeeded in wholly uniting the nation, yet it was to prove the dominant note of the race through its many subsequent changes of fortune. The rites and sacrifices then instituted; the abomination of desolation then set up became regarded with general horror; and in this