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probable, that Cyrus, when he saw in his journey into Syria so large a country as Judea lying waste and desolate, was moved with a desire to people it, and thought none so proper as its former inhabitants.
As soon as Cyrus had issued his decree, we find numbers of Jews assembled ; their chief leaders were Zerubbabel the son of Salathiel, the son of Jehoiachin king of Judah, and Jeshua the son of Jozadek the high-priest. Not only the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, but remnants of the ten tribes who had been carried away by Tiglath-Pileser, Shalmanezar, and Essar-haddon, still retained the worship of God; these, therefore, gladly took advantage of Cyrus's decree, for it extended not to JUDAH only, but to all the house of ISRAEL.
CONCLUSION OF THE REIGN OF CYRUS-THE FOUN
DATION OF THE TEMPLE LAID AT JERUSALEM.
From Ezra, Chap. iii. And when the seventh month was come, and the children of Israel were in the cities, the people gathered themselves together as one man to Jerusalem.
Then stood up Jeshua the son of Jozadek, and his brethren the priests, and Zerubbabel the son of Shcaltiel, and his brethren, and builded the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt-offerings thereon, as it is written in the law of Moses the man of God.
And they set the altar upon his bases ; (for fear was upon them because of the people of those countries :) and they offered burnt-offerings thereon unto the LORD, even burnt-offerings morning and evening.
They kept also the feast of tabernacles, as it is written, and offered the daily burnt-offerings by number,
according to the custom, as the duty of every day required:
And afterward offered the continual burnt-offering, both of the new moons and of all the set feasts of the LORD, that were consecrated ; and of every one that willingly offered a free-will-offering unto the LORD.
From the first day of the seventh month began they to offer burnt-offerings unto the LORD. But the foundation of the temple of the LORD was not yet laid.
They gave money also unto the masons, and to the carpenters; and meat, and drink, and oil, unto them of Sidon, and to them of Tyre, to bring cedar trees from Lebanon to the sea of Joppa ; according to the grant that they had of Cyrus king of Persia.
Now in the second year of their coming unto the house of God at Jerusalem, in the second month,'began Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua the son of Jozadek, and the remnant of their brethren, the priests and the Levites, and all they that were come out of the captivity unto Jerusalem ; and appointed the Levites, from twenty years old and upwards, to set forward the work of the house of the LORD,
Then stood Jeshua with his sons and his brethren, Kadmiel and his sons, the sons of Judah together, to set forward the workmen in the house of God; the sons of Henadad, with their sons and their brethren the Levites.
And when the builders laid the foundation of the Temple of the LORD, they set the priests in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites the sons of Asaph with cymbals to praise the LORD, after the ordinance of David king of Israel.
And they sung together by course, in praising and giving thanks unto the Lord; because he is good, for bis mercy endureth for ever towards Israel. And all
the people shouted with a great shout when they praised the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid.
But many of the priests and Levites, and chief of the fathers, who were ancient men that had seen the first house, when the foundation 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.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
It required time to collect materials for the building, and engage workmen; therefore the first year was employed in these necessary preparations; but early in the second, the foundation of the temple was laid, which was done with great solemnity. It is supposed, that during the time that the Temple was building, a Tabernacle was set up as in the days of David.
While the Jews were carrying on the work, the Samaritans, who were planted in several cities of Israel in the room of the Israelites, whom Shalmanezar, king of Assyria, carried away captive, desired to join with them in the work; but neither the governors nor chiefs of the families of Israel would consent, being apprehensive that they were no better than idolaters, notwithstanding they professed to worship the God of Israel. This refusal exasperated the Samaritans, who did their utmost to obstruct the work, and though they could not alter the decree of Cyrus, yet, by bribing his ministers, they, in a great measure, defeated its effect; so that for several years the building went on but slowly. These disputes gave rise to that enmity which afterwards subsisted between the Jews and the Samaritans.
It is supposed, that on this occasion Daniel gave himself up to prayer,
and had some of those wonderful vi. sions which are found among his prophecies; and it is thought he died soon after. The character of this good man is fully displayed in the account of his life ; from whence it appears, that he was universally esteemed and renowned for his amiable disposition; that he devoted his heart to God in his youth, and obtained the blessing of the Lord, who, from a captive, made him a prince, and distinguished him with his divine favour to the last.
The Jews having lost a powerful advocate in the Persian court, by the death of Daniel, their enemies took advantage of them, and succeeded in some of their designs against them; but as the people were able to work, and had the assistance of the Zidonians in respect to labour and materials, they proceeded, though not with such expedition as they would have done if the decree of the king of Persia had been allowed to have its full influence.
In the seventh year after the restoration of the Jews, their great benefactor Cyrus died, having reigned from his first taking on him the command of the Persian and Median armies, thirty years; from his taking of Babylon, nine years : and from being sole monarch of the East after the death of his uncle Darius, seven years: at the time of his death he was seventy years old. It is said of this prince that, when on his death-bed, he called his family and friends about him, and expressed his hope of the immortality of the soul.
Rollin's Ancient History,
We have seen the full completion of the prophecies respecting the Babylonian empire. Let us now read what Daniel particularly foretold respecting the great monarchies which were to succeed it.
EXTRACTS FROM THE PROPHECY OF DANIEL.
From Chap. X. In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia, a thing was revealed unto Daniel, whose name was called Bel. teshazzar; and the thing was true, but the time appointed was long: and he understood the thing, and had understanding of the vision.
In those days I Daniel was mourning three full weeks.
I ate no pleasant bread, neither came fesh nor wine in my mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.
And in the four and twentieth day of the first month, as I was by the side of the great river which is Hidde. kel; then I lift up mine eyes, and looked, and behold, a certain man clothed in linen, whose loins were gird-, ed with fine gold of Uphaz:
His body also was like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in colour to polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude.
And I Daniel alone saw the vision: for the men that were with me saw not the vision; but a great quaking fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves.
Therefore I was left alone, and saw this great vision, and there remained no strength in me: for my
comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength.