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“ with all other men, to come to their temple and worship 6 God there."
4. When the Cutheans heard this, for the Samaritans have that appellation, they had indignation at it, and persuaded the nations of Syria to desire of the governors, in the same manner as they had done formerly in the days of Cyrus, and again in the days of Cambyses afterwards, to put a stop to the building of the temple, and to endeavour to delay and protract the Jews in their zeal about it. Now at this time Sisinnes, the governor of Syria and Phenicia, and Sathrabuzanes, with certain others, came up to Jerusalem, and asked the rulers of the Jews, “ By whose grant it was that they built the
temple in this manner, since it was more like to a citadel “ than a temple? and for what reason it was that they built “ cloisters and walls, and those strong ones too, about the “ city?” To which Zorobabel and Jeshua the high-priest replied, “ That they were the servants of God Almighty : “ that this temple was built for him by a king of theirs, that " lived in great prosperity, and one that exceeded all men in “ virtue, and that it continued a long time, but that, because " of their fathers' impiety towards God, Nebuchadnezzar,
king of the Babylonians, and of the Chaldeans, took their
city by force, and destroyed it, and pillaged the temple, " and burnt it down, and transplanted the people whom he " had made captives, and removed them to Babylon: that *" Cyrus, who, after him, was king of Babylonia and Persia,
wrote to them to build the temple, and committed the gifts “ and vessels, and whatsoever Nebuchadnezzar had carried
out of it, to Zorobabel and Mithridates the treasurer; and
gave order to have them carried to Jerusalem, and to have “ them restored to their own temple, when it was built; for " he had sent to them to have that done speedily, and com“ manded Sanabassar to go up to Jerusalem, and to take care " of the building of the temple; who, upon receiving that
epistle from Cyrus, came, and immediately laid its foundations: and although it hath been in building from that time
to this, it hath not yet been finished, by reason of the ma" lignity of our enemies. If therefore you have a mind, and " think it proper, write this account to Darius, that when he “ hath consulted the records of the kings, he may find that
we have told you nothing that is false about this matter.”
5. When Zorobabel and the high priest bad made this answer, Sisinnes, and those that were with him, did not resolve to hinder the building, until they had informed king Darius of all this. So they immediately wrote to him about these affairs; but as the Jews were now under terror, and afraid
lest the king should change his resolution as to the building of Jerusalem, and of the temple, there were two prophets at that time among them, Haggai and Zechariah, who encou. raged them, and bid them be of good cheer, and to suspect no discouragement from the Persians, for that God foretold this to them. So, in dependance on those prophets, they applied themselves earnestly, to building, and did not intermit one day.
6. Now Darius, when the Samaritans had written to him, and in their epistle had accused the Jews, how they fortified the city, and built the temple more like to a citadel than to a temple; and said, that their doings were not expedient for the king's affairs; and besides, they shewed the epistle of Cambyses, wherein he forbade them to build the temple: and when Darius thereby understood that the restoration of Jeru. salem was not expedient for his affairs, and when he had read the epistle that was brought him from Sisiones, and those that were with him, he gave order that what concerned these matters should be sought for among the royal records. Whereupon a book was found at Ecbatana, in the tower that was in Media, wherein was written as follows: “ Cyrus the king, in “ the first year of his reign, commanded that the temple “ should be built in Jerusalem; and the altar in height three
score cubits, and its breadth of the same, with three edifices of polished stone, and one edifice of stone of their own
country; and he ordained that the expences of it should “ be paid out of the king's revenue. He also commanded 5 that the vessels which Nebuchadnezzar had pillaged [out 66 of the temple,] and had carried to Babylon, should be re66 stored to the people of Jerusalem; and that the care of " these things should belong to Sanabassar the governor and " president of Syria and Phenicia, and to his associates, that " they may not meddle with that place, but may permit the “ servants of God, the Jews and their rulers, to build the * temple. He also ordained that they should assist them in " the work; and that they should pay to the Jews, out of the 6 tribute of the country where they were governors, on ac“ count of the sacrifices, bulls and rams, and lambs and kids “ of the goats, and fine flour, and oil, and wine, and all other " things that the priests should suggest to them; and that " they should pray for the preservation of the king, and of " the Persians: and that for such as transgressed any of these "! orders thus sent to them, he commanded that they should " be caught, and hung upon a cross, and their substance con“ fiscated to the king's use. He also prayed to God against “ them, that if any one attempted to hinder the building of
“ the temple, God would strike him dead, and thereby re66 strain bis wickedness."
7. When Darius had found this book among the records of Cyrus, he wrote an answer to Sisinnes and his associates, whose contents were these : “ King Darius to Sisinnes the
governor, and to Sathrabuzanes, sendeth greeting: Having 66 found a copy of this epistle among the records of Cyrus, I " have sent it you; and I will that all things be done as is “ therein written. Fare ye well.” So when Sisinnes, and those that were with him, understood the intention of the king, they resolved to follow his directions entirely for the time to
So they forwarded the sacred works, and assisted the elders of the Jews, and the princes of the sanhedrim, and the structure of the temple was with great diligence brought to a conclusion, by the prophecies of Haggai and Zechariah, according to God's commands, and by the injunctions of Cyrus and Darius the kings. Now the temple was built in seven years time: And in the nioth year of the reign of Darius, on the twenty-third day of the twelfth month, which is by us called Adar, but by the Macedonians Dystrus, the priests and Levites, and the other multitude of the Israelites, offered sacrifices, as the renovation of their former prosperity after their captivity, and because they had now the temple rebuilt, an hundred bulls, two hundred rams, four hundred lambs, and twelve kids of the goats, according to the number of their tribes (for so many are the tribes of the Israelites,) and this last for the sins of every tribe. The priests also and the Levites set the porters at every gate, according to the laws of Moses. The Jews also built the cloisters of the inner temple that were round about the temple itself.
8. And as the feast of unleavened bread was at hand, in the first month, which, according to the Macedonians, is called Xanthicus, but according to us Nisan, all the people ran together out of the villages to the city, and celebrated the festival, having purified themselves, with their wives and children, according to the law of their country; and they offered the sacrifice which was called the Passover, on the fourteenth day of the same month, and feasted seven days, and spared for no cost, but offered whole burnt-offerings to God, and performed sacrifices of thanksgiving, because God had led them again to the land of their fathers, and to the laws thereto belonging, and had rendered the mind of the king of Persia favourable to them. So these men offered the largest sacrifices on these accounts, and used great magnificence in the worship of God, and dwelt in Jerusalem, and made use of a forın of government that was aristocratical, but mixed with an
oligarchy, for the high-priests were at the head of their affairs, until the posterity of the Asamoneans set up kingly government; for before their captivity, and the dissolution of their polity, they at first had kingly government from Saul and David, for five hundred thirty-two years, six months, and ten days; but before those kings, such rulers governed them as were called Judges and Monarchs. Under this form of government they continued for more than five hundred years after the death of Moses, and of Joshua their commander. And this is the account I tiad to give of the Jews who had been carried into captivity, but were delivered from it in the times of Cyrus and Darius.
9. * But the Samaritans being evil and enviously disposed to the Jews, wrought them many mischiefs, by reliance on their riches, and by their pretence that they were allied to the Persians, on account that thence they came; and whatsoever it was that they were enjoined to pay the Jews by the king's order out of their tributes, for the sacrifices, they would not pay it. They had also the governors favourable to them, and assisting them for that purpose; nor did they spare to hurt them, either by themselves, or by others, as far as they were able. So the Jews determined to send an embassage to king Darius, in favour of the people of Jerusalem, and in order to accuse the Samaritans. The ambassadors were Zorobabel, and four others of the rulers: and as soon as the king knew from the ambassadors the accusations and complaints they brought against the Samaritans, he gave them an epistle to be carried to the governors and council of Samaria. The contents of which epistle were these: “ King Darius to Tangan" as and Sambabas, the governors of the Samaritans, to Sad“ races and Bobelo, and the rest of their fellow-servants that
are in Samaria: Zorobabel, Ananias, and Mordecai, the “ ambassadors of the Jews, complain of you, that you ob.. “ struct them in the building of the temple, and do not sup
ply them with the expences which I commanded you to “ do for the offering their sacrifices. My will therefore is " this, that upon the reading of this epistle, you supply them " with whatsoever they want for their sacrifices, and that out “ of the royal treasury, of the tributes of Samaria, as the “ priest shall desire, that they may not leave off offering their “ daily sacrifices, nor praying to God for me and the Per" sians.” And these were the contents of that epistle.
* The history contained in this section is entirely wanting in all our copies both of Ezra and Esdras.
How Xerxes, the son of Darius, was well disposed to the Jews :
As also concerning Esdras and Nehemiah. 1.
Upon the death of Darius, Xerxes his son took the kingdom, who, as he inherited his father's kingdom, so did he inherit his piety towards God, and honour of him ; for he did all things suitably to his father relating to divine worship, and he was exceeding friendly to the Jews. Now about this time, a son of Jeshua, whose name was Joacim, was the high-priest. Moreover, there was now in Babylon a righteous man, and one that enjoyed a great reputation among the multitude: He was the principal priest of the people, and his name was Es. dras. He was very skilful in the laws of Moses, and was well acquainted with king Xerxes. He had determined to go up to Jerusalem, and to take with him some of those Jews that were in Babylon; and he desired that the king would give him an epistle to the governors of Syria, by which they might know who he was. Accordingly the king wrote the following epistle to those governors: “ Xerxes, king of kings, to Ezra " the priest, and reader of the divine law, greeting: I think " it agreeable to that love which I bear to mankind, to per“ mit those of the Jewish nation who are so disposed, as well “ as those of the priests and Levites that are in our kingdom, " to go together to Jerusalem. Accordingly I have given “ command for that purpose; and let every one that hath a “ mind go, according as it hath seemed good to me, and to
my seven counsellors, and this in order to their review of “ the affairs of Judea, to see whether they be agreeable to “ the law of God. Let them also take with them those pre
sents which I and my friends have vowed, with all that sil“ ver and gold that is found in the country of the Babylo
nians, as dedicated to God, and let all this be carried to “ Jerusalem, to God for sacrifices. Let it also be lawful for " thee and thy brethren to make as many vessels of silver and
gold as thou pleasest. Thou shalt also dedicate those boly « vessels which have been given thee, and as many more as " thou hast a mind to make, and shall take the expences out % of the king's treasury. I have moreover written to the $ treasurers of Syria and Phenicia, that they take care of “ those affairs that Esdras the priest, and reader of the laws
of God, is sent about. And that God may not be at all angry with me, or with my children, I grant all that is necessary for sacrifices to God, according to the law, as far as