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ed their backslidings, and revived their hopes. The books of Haggai and Zechariah must be read in connexion with that of Ezra, in order to appreciate their peculiar force and their most happy adaptations. The appearance again of accredited prophets among them was hailed with universal joy by the nation. New faith and a better spirit took possession of the people. They received reproof and returned to their duty. “Then rose up Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and began to build the house of God which is at Jerusalem: and with them were the prophets of God helping them.” Ezra v, 2. “Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the Lord their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the Lord their God had sent him, and the people did fear before the Lord. Then spake Haggai the Lord's messenger in the Lord's message unto the people, saying, “I am with you saith the Lord.’ And the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and did work in the house of the Lord of hosts, their God, in the four and twentieth day of the sixth month, in the second year of Darius the king.” No sooner had the sleepless enemies of the Jews heard of their recommencing the building of the temple, than they engaged Tatnai, the governor of Syria, to interfere, in order to stop the work. This man seems at least to have possessed an unprejudiced mind, and a natural sense of justice. He came to Jerusalem and took a written account of proceedings, together with the names of the leading men of the nation. These he transmitted to Darius, and after having spread before the king all the facts in the case, submitted the subject to his decision, and awaited his orders. Immediately Darius ordered search to be made for the original decree of Cyrus, which authorized the building of the temple. They naturally first sought it in the royal archives at Babylon, but not finding it there, they subsequently discovered it in the record chamber at Achmetha, (Ecbatana, now called Hammadan,) the Median capital of the empire, and the summer residence of the
Darius now perceived that all that the Jews had said respecting the decree of Cyrus, and their consequent right to rebuild the temple, was true, and that the opposition to them was a gratuitous and malignant persecution. He therefore returned answer to Tatnai, the satrap west of Euphrates, to forward the Jews in their work, and effectuate the original edict of Cyrus; commanding all persons to desist from all opposition thereto, on pain of the most severe and exemplary form of death penalty; at the same time directing that the Levites should “offer sacrifices of sweet savours unto the God of heaven, and pray for the life of the king, and of his sons.”
The favour of the Persian monarch, and his reverence for Jehovah, were justly hailed as the omens of happier days, and of the wide extension of Jehovah's name among the nations.
They now joyfully sang:
“All the kings of the earth shall praise thee, O Lord,
Tatnai promptly executed the orders of Darius, and from that time all opposition to the building of the temple ceased. “And the elders of the Jews builded, and they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo.” Read Ezra v, and vi, 1–14; Haggai i, 1–11 and ii, 1–9 ; Zechariah i, 1–6 and chapters ii to vi.
PS AL M C XXXVIII.
ON RESUMING THE BUILDING OF THE TEMPLE, AFTER THE
The Psalmist praiseth God for the truth of his word, 1–3; he prophesieth that the
a 1 Kings 8, 29, 30. d Psa. 113. 5, 6. f Psa. 23.8, 4.
c Psa. 102. 15, 22. 1 Peter 5. 5. and 14.15.
INTRODUCTION TO PSALMS CXXXIV, CXXXV,
PSALMS OF HAGGAI, ZECHARIAH., AND OTHERS.
The building of the temple now went forward without obstruction. The Jews had finally triumphed over all opposition, and being animated by the presence and exhortations of their prophets, they devoted themselves to their work with alacrity. Zechariah encouraged them with assurances of complete restoration.
“Thus saith the Lord; I am returned unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem; And Jerusalem shall be called A City of Truth; And the mountain of the Lord of hosts The Holy Mountain. “Thus saith the Lord of hosts; There shall yet old men and old women dwell in the streets of Jerusalem, And every man with his staff in his hand for very age. And the streets of the city shall be full Of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof.” “Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Behold, I will save my people from the east country, And from the west country, And I will bring them, and they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalein; And they shall be my people, and I will be their God, In truth and in righteousness. Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Let your hands be strong, Ye that hear in these days These words by the mouth of the prophets, Which were in the day That the foundation of the house of the Lord of hosts was laid, That the temple might be built.”—Zechariah viii, 3–5, 7–9.
Four years later, in the sixth year of Darius, the temple was completed; being twenty years after its commencement, and twenty-one years after the first promulgation of the decree of Cyrus. It was a day ever memorable in the annals of the nation, and was ever after celebrated by a solemn annual feast. John x, 22. Their city, indeed, still lay in ruins, but they had now an altar and a temple, and they could resume the regular worship of God according to the law of Moses, as the nation enjoyed it before the captivity. They had achieved one great work of national importance. They had advanced one step toward the restoration of their polity. They had erected one great central point of unity and attraction to the scattered members of the Hebrew family. Through Jehovah's blessing they had thus far advanced, in exact fulfilment of recorded promise and prophecy, and with what lively appreciation could they now sing,
“Happy is he, that hath the God of Jacob for his help;
“And the children of Israel, the priests, and the Levites, and the rest of the children of the captivity, kept the dedication of this house of God with joy, and offered at the dedication of this house of God a hundred bullocks, two hundred rams, four hundred lambs; and for a sin-offering for all Israel, twelve hegoats, according to the number of the tribes of Israel. And they set the priests in their divisions, and the Levites in their courses, for the service of God, which is at Jerusalem ; as it is written in the book of Moses. And the children of the captivity kept the passover upon the fourteenth day of the first month. For the priests and the Levites were purified together, all of them were pure, and killed the passover for all the children of the captivity, and for their brethren the priests, and for themselves. And the children of Israel, which were come again out of captivity, and all such as had separated themselves unto them from the filthiness of the heathen of the land, to seek the Lord God of Israel, did eat, and kept the feast of unleavened bread seven days with joy: for the Lord had made them joyful, and turned the heart of the king of Assyria unto them, to strengthen their hands in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel.” Ezra vi, 16–22; Zechariah vii and viii.