The Historical Bible
THE MAKERS AND TEACHERS OF JUDAISM
FROM THE FALL OF JERUSALEM TO THE DEATH OF HEROD THE GREAT
CHARLES FOSTER KENT, PH.D.
WOOLSEY PROFESSOR OF BIBLICAL LITERATURE IN YALE UNIVERSITY
WITH MAPS AND CHARTS
The period represented by this volume is in many ways the most complex and confusing in Israel’s history. The record is not that of the life of a nation but of the scattered remnants of a race. It was inevitable that under the influence of their varied environment, the survivors of the Jewish race should develop very different beliefs and characteristics. The result is that many different currents of thought and shades of belief are reflected in the literature of this period; some of it is dross, but much of it is purest gold. While the period following the destruction of Jerusalem was a reflective and a retrospective age in which the teaching of the earlier priests and prophets gained wide acceptance, it was also a creative era. Fully half of the literature of the Old Testament and all of the important writings of the Apocrypha come from these tragic five centuries. Although the historical records are by no means complete, the great crises in Israel’s life are illuminated by such remarkable historical writings as the memoirs of Nehemiah, the first book of Maccabees, and the detailed histories of Josephus.
The majority of the writings, however, reveal above all the soul of the race. Out of its anguish and suffering came the immortal poems found in Isaiah 40-66, the book of Job, and the Psalter. Instead of the distinctly nationalistic point of view, which characterizes practically all of the writings of the pre-exilic period, the interest becomes individual and the outlook universal. During these centuries Israel’s prophets, priests, and sages became not merely teachers of the nation but of humanity. Conspicuous among the great teachers of his day stands the noble sage, Jesus the son of Sirach, who gleaned out and presented in effective form that which was most vital in the earlier teaching of his race. In his broad, simple faith in God and man, in his emphasis on deeds and character, as well as ceremonial, and in his practical philosophy of life he was a worthy forerunner of the Great Teacher whose name he bore.
This period represents the culmination and fruition of the divine Influences at work in Israel’s early history. It was during this period that Judaism was born and attained its full development, Israel accepted the absolute rule of the written law, and the scribes succeeded the earlier prophets and sages. Out of the heat and conflict of the Maccabean struggle the parties of the Pharisees and Sadducees sprang into existence and won their commanding place in the life of Judaism. Hence this period is the natural historical introduction to the study of the birth and early development of Christianity. It is also the link that binds the revelation found in the Old Testament to that of the New.
The volume of literature coming from this period is so vast that it has been necessary to abridge it at many points in order to utilize that which is most valuable. This has been done by leaving out those passages which are of secondary origin or value, and by preserving at the same time the language and logical thought of the original writers. In the verbose and voluminous writings of Josephus the resulting text is in most cases far clearer and more useful; for the repetitious clauses found in the original often obscure the real thought of the writer. No apology or explanation is required for the use of such apocryphal writings as I Maccabees, Ben Sira, the Wisdom of Solomon, or Josephus’s histories, for these are required to bridge the two centuries which intervene between the latest writings of the Old Testament and the earliest writings of the New. They make it possible to study biblical history as an unbroken unit from the days of Moses to the close of the first Christian century, and thus concretely to emphasize the significant but often the forgotten fact that God was revealing himself unceasingly through the life of his people, and that the Bible which records that revelation consists not of two disconnected parts but is one book.
To two of my former students, the Reverend Harold B. Hunting and Ralph H. Pierce, I am under obligation for valuable aid and suggestions in preparing this volume for press.
THE EXILE AND REVIVAL OF THE JUDEAN COMMUNITY
Section XCI. THE JEWS IN PALESTINE AND EGYPT
Lam. 2:1-10, 5:1-18, Jer. 43:3-12, 44:1-14, 28.
I. The Significance of the Destruction of the Hebrew State.–II. The Book of Lamentations.–III. Authorship and Date of the Book.–IV. Its Real Character.–Numbers and Fortunes of the Jews Who Remained in Palestine.– VI. Fortunes of the Jews in Egypt.–VII. The Jewish Colony at Elephantine. –VIII. The Temple of Jahu at Elephantine.
Section XCII. EZEKIEL’S MESSAGE TO HIS SCATTERED COUNTRYMEN.
Ezek. 37, 40:1, 13, 15, 17, 19, 20, 21b, 44-47, 41:1-8a, 43:1-9, 44:9-16, 23, 24, 45:1-8.
I. The Home of the Exiles in Babylon.–II. Their New Conditions and Occupations.–III. Their Religious Life. IV. The Prophecies of Ezekiel.–
V. The Resurrection of the Dead Nation.–VI. The Divine Shepherd.– VII. Ezekiel’s Plan of the Restored Temple.
Section XCIII. THE CLOSING YEARS OF THE BABYLONIAN RULE
II Kings 25:27-30, Isa. 9:1-7, 11:1-10, 13:2-4, 11, 17, 18b, 19-22, Ezra 6:3-5, 5:14, 15, 1:5-6, I Esdr. 5:4-6, Ezra 3:2-4, 6b.
I. The Transformation of the Jews into a Literary People.–II. The Literary Activity of the Babylonian Period.–III. The Holiness Code.– IV. The Liberation of Jehoiachin and the Hopes of the Jews.–V. The Rule of Nabonidus.–VII. Rise and Conquests of Cyrus.–VII. His Capture of Babylon.–VIII. His Treatment of Conquered Peoples.
Section XCIV. THE REBUILDING OF THE TEMPLE
Hag. 1, 2, Ezra 5:3-6:14.
I. The Books of Ezra and Nehemiah.–II. The Chronicler’s Conception of the Restoration.–III. Convulsions in the Persian Empire.–IV. Haggai’s Effective Addresses.–V. The Attempt to Stop the Rebuilding of the Temple.–VI. The Significance of the Restoration of the Temple.
Section XCV. ZECHARIAH’S VISIONS AND ENCOURAGING ADDRESSES
Zech. 1:7-4:6a, 11-14, 8b-10, 6:9-15, 7, 8:1-8.
I. Zechariah’s Ancestry and Point of View.–II. The Book of Zechariah. –III. Problems and Hopes of the Judean Community.–IV. Zechariah’s Assurances of Jehovah’s Care.–V. Preparations for the Crowning of Zerubbabel.–VI. Disappointment of these Patriotic Hopes.–VII. Zechariah’s Later Exhortations and Predictions.
Section XCVI. ISRAEL’S TRAINING AND DESTINY
Isa. 40:1-4, 6, 31, 41:1-4, 8-10, 42:1-7, 10-15, 22-28, 44:1-5.
I. The Seventy Years Following the Rebuilding of the Temple.– II. Spiritual Forces in Judaism.–III. Evidences that Isaiah 40-66 Were Written in Palestine.–IV. Their Probable Date.–V. Their Literary Characteristics.–VI. Their Theme and Purpose.–VII. Reasons Why Jehovah Will Restore His People.
Section XCVII. CONDITIONS AND PROBLEMS WITHIN THE JUDEAN COMMUNITY
Mal. 1:6-14, 2, 3, 4:1-3, Ps. 22:1-18.
I. Date of the Book of Malachi.–II. Neglect of the Temple Service.–
III. The Need of a Great Moral Awakening.–IV. The Lot of the Faithful.– V. The Problem of Suffering in the Literature of the Period.
Section XCVIII. THE PROBLEM AND TEACHINGS OF THE BOOK OF JOB
Job 1, 2 3:2, 11, 13-15, 17, 19, 20-22, 25, 26, 4:1-7, 17-19, 5:17-22, 26, 27, 6:1-4b, 14, 15, 20-30, 7:1-6, 9-18, 20, 21, 8:1-6, 9:1-7, 16-20, 24, 31-35, 10:9-15, 20-22, 11:1, 7-9, 13-15, 12:1-3, 13:7-18, 21-25, 14:7-10, 13-15, 18, 19, 15:4-6, 16:1-4, 11-13a, 18-21, 18:1, 5-7, 19:1, 13-15, 23-27, 20:1-5, 21:1, 7-9, 22:1-5, 23, 27, 28, 23:1-6, 25:1-4, 26:1, 27:2, 4, 5, 7-9, 29:1-5, 30:15-21, 31:5-8, 35-37, 40:2, 8, 9, 38:2-7, 8-11, 39-41, 42:2, 3, 5, 8.
I. The Structure of the Book of Job.–II. Dates of the Different Parts.– III. The Prose Story.–IV. The Poem of Job.–V. Progress in Job’s Thought.–VI. Significance of the Speeches of Job.
Section XCIX. THE TRAINING AND MISSION OF THE TRUE SERVANT OF JEHOVAH
Isa. 49:1-15, 50:4-10, 52:13-15, 53.
I. The Different Portraits of Jehovah’s Servant.–II. The Prophet’s Purpose.–III. The Character and Condition of Those to Whom the Prophet Appealed.–IV. The Task and Training of Jehovah’s Servant.–V. Methods of Jehovah’s Servant.–VI. Realization of the Ideal of Service.
Section C. NEHEMIAH’S WORK IN REBUILDING THE WALLS OF JERUSALEM
Neh. 1-4, 6, 7:1-5a, 12:31, 32, 37-40.
I. Nehemiah’s Memoirs.–II. Nehemiah’s Response to the Call to Service.– III. Obstacles that Confronted Him.–IV. His Plan of Work.–V. The Restored Walls.–VI. Completion and Dedication of the Walls.
Section CI. NEHEMIAH’S SOCIAL AND RELIGIOUS REFORMS
Isa. 56, 58:2-12, Neh. 5, 13:4-31.
I. Cruelty and Hypocrisy of the Jewish Leaders.–II. Nehemiah’s Method of Correcting the Social Evils in the Community.–III. The Historical Value of Nehemiah 13.–IV. Regulations Regarding the Temple Service.– V. Provisions Regarding Sabbath Observance and Foreign Marriages.– VI. Significance of Nehemiah’s Work.
Section CII. TRADITIONAL ACCOUNT OF THE ADOPTION OF THE PRIESTLY LAW
Ezra 7:1, 6-10, Neh. 7:73b-8:4a, 5, 6, 9-18, 9:1-3, 6-8. 32-38, 10:28-39b
I. The Ezra Tradition.–II. The Historical Value of the Ezra Tradition.– III. The Facts Underlying It.–IV. Origin and Aims of the Priestly Laws.–V. Their Important Regulations.–VI. Their Practical Effects.
Section CIII. THE JEWISH STATE DURING THE LAST CENTURY OF PERSIAN RULE
Ps. 36:5-10, Joel 2:1-29, Jos. Ant. XI, 7-8:2.
I. Prosperity of the Judean Community.–II. The Growth of the Psalter.– III. The Prophecy of Joel.–IV. Hopes of the Jews.–V. Rule of the High Priests.–VI. The Date of the Samaritan Schism.–VII. Its Nature and Consequences.
THE GREEK AND MACCABEAN AGE
Section CIV. THE JEWS UNDER THEIR GREEK RULERS
I Mac. 1:1-4, Jos. Ant. XI, 8:7a, e, XII, 1:1b-d, g-j, 2:1a, 5d, e, 4:1d-f, 2a-f, 3b, 4a-c, 5a-c. e, 6a, 3:3a, b, c-e.
I. Josephus’s Histories.–II. Alexander’s Conquests.–III. The Jews in Egypt and Alexandria.–IV. The Rule of the Ptolemies.–V. Fortunes of the Jews of Palestine.–VI. Conquest of Palestine by the Seleucids In 311 B.C.
Section CV. THE WISE AND THEIR TEACHINGS
Prov. 1:2-6, 8:1-6, 13-27, 29-35, 13:14,20, 24:5, 12:10, 20:13, 23:16, 29-35, 29:20, 15:23, 19:11, 16:32, 23:36-28, 4:25-27, 14:15, 26:12, 27:2, 4:23, 11:6, 21:3, 15:1, 3:27, 14:21, 19:17, 25:21,22, 3:11,12, 1:5,6.
I. Structure and Authorship of the Book of Proverbs.–II. Date of the Different Collections.–III. The Wise in Israel’s Early History.– IV. Their Prominence in the Greek Period.–V. Their Aims.–VI. Their Methods.–VII. Their Important Teachings.
Section CVI. THE DIFFERENT CURRENTS OF THOUGHT IN JUDAISM DURING THE GREEK PERIOD
Ps. 19:7-14, 46, 22:27-30, Jonah 1, 2:1,10, 3, 4, Eccles. 1:12-18, 2:1-17, 24-26.
I. The Ritualists.–II. The Legalists.–III. The Disciples of the Prophets.–IV. The Date and Character of the Book of Jonah.–V. Its Teachings.–VI. The Book of Ecclesiastes.–VII. Koheleth’s Philosophy of Life.
Section CVII. THE TEACHINGS OF JESUS THE SON OF SIRACH
B. Sir. 1:1-10, 2:1-9, 3:17-30, 4:2, 9, 10, 20-25, 28-31, 5:1-2, 6:2, 4-8, 14-16, 7:12, 13, 20-22, 28-30.
I. Date and Character of Jesus the Son of Sirach.–II. His Writings.– III. The History of the Book.–IV. Its Picture of Jewish Life.–V. Rise of the Scribes.–VI. The Teachings of Ben Sira.
Section CVIII. THE CAUSES OF THE MACCABEAN STRUGGLE
I Mac. 1:10-22,24-63.
I. The Character and Contents of I Maccabees.–II. Character and Contents of II Maccabees.–III. Aggressive Character of Hellenic Culture.– IV. Contrast between Hellenism and Judaism.–V. Apostasy of the Jews and Perfidy of the High Priests.–VI. Character of Antiochus Epiphanes.– VII. His Policy toward the Jews.
Section CIX. THE EFFECT OF PERSECUTION UPON THE JEWS
I Mac. 2, Dan. 7:1-27, 12:1-3.
I. The Uprising Led by Mattathias.–II. Party of the Hasideans or Pious.– III. Date of the Visions in Daniel 7-12.–IV. Their Real Character and Aim.–V. The Four Heathen Kingdoms and the Kingdom of God.
Section CX. THE VICTORIES THAT GAVE THE JEWS RELIGIOUS LIBERTY
I Mac. 3:1-43,46-60, 4.
I. The Character of Judas.–II. Obstacles against which Judas Contended.– III. Defeat of Apollonius and Seron.–IV. The Battle of Emmaus.–V. The Battle at Bethsura.–VI. Restoration of the Temple Service.–VII. The New Spirit in Judaism.
Section CXI. THE LONG CONTEST FOR POLITICAL INDEPENDENCE
I Mac. 5:1-23, 45, 54, 65-68, 63, 6:18-63, 7, 9:1-31, 10:1-21, 67-71, 74-76, 11:20-29.
I. The Political Situation.–II. The Jewish Attitude toward the Heathen Reflected in the Book of Esther.–III. Campaigns against the Neighboring Peoples.–IV. The Battle of Beth-zacharias.–V. Victories Over Nicanor.– VI. The Death of Judas.–VII. Dissensions in the Syrian Court.– VIII. Concessions to Jonathan.
Section CXII. PEACE AND PROSPERITY UNDER SIMON
I Mac. 11:38-40, 54-56, 12:39-53, 13:1-11, 20-30, 33, 43-53, 14:16-18, 38-49, 4-15.
I. Capture and Death of Jonathan.–II. Character and Policy of Simon.– III. His Conquests.–IV. His Authority.–V. Completion of the Psalter.– VI. The Religious Life Reflected in the Later Psalms.
Section CXIII. THE RULE OF JOHN HYRCANUS AND ARISTOBULUS
I Mac. 16:11-22, Jos. Jew. War, I, 2:3c-4b, 4d, 5, 6, Jos. Ant. XIII, 9:1d, e, Jos. Jew. War, I, 2:7a, b, Jos. Ant. XIII, 10:5, 6a, c, 7, 11:1a-c, 3a, 3e.
I. Murder of Simon.–II. The Syrian Invasion.–III. John’s Military Policy and Conquests.–IV. The Break with the Pharisees.–V. The Reign of Aristobulus.
Section CXIV THE PHARISEES, SADDUCEES, AND ESSENES
Jos. Ant. XVIII, 1:2, 3a-c, 3d, 4a, b, 5a, b, Jos. Jew. War, II, 8:2-8, 9a-c, 10b, c, 11b, 12.
I. Influences that Gave Rise to the Jewish Parties.–II. Character and Beliefs of the Pharisees.–III. Of the Sadducees.–IV. Of the Essenes.
Section CXV. THE LIFE AND FAITH OF THE JEWS OF THE DISPERSION
Jos. Ant. XII, 3:1a, VII, 3:3a, b, 10:2d-3e, XIII, 10:4, Wisd. Of Sol. 6:12-16, 7:25-8:1, 7, 1:1-8, 12-15, 2:23-3:1, 5:15, 16, 11:24-12:2, 15:1-3.
I. Conditions of the Jews in Antioch and Asia Minor.–II. In Egypt.– III. The Jewish Temple at Leontopolis.–IV. Translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek.–V. Apologetic Jewish Writings.–VI. The Wisdom of Solomon.–VII. Its Important Teachings.
Section CXVI. THE DECLINE OF THE MACCABEAN KINGDOM
Jos. Jew. War, I, 4:1-4c, 5c, 6a, c, 8c, d, 5:1-7:7.
I. The Character and Policy of Alexander Janneus.–II. The Effects of His Rule.–III. Alexandra’s Reign.–IV. Quarrels between Hyrcanus and Aristobulus.–V. Rome’s Intervention.–VI. Cause of the Fall of the Jewish Kingdom.–VII. Political, Intellectual, and Religious Effects of the Maccabean Struggle.
THE RULE OF ROME
Section CXVII. THE RISE OF THE HERODIAN HOUSE
Jos. Jew. War, I, 8:2, 4a, 5-7, 9b, 9:1, 3a-6b, 10:1, 2a, 3a, 4, 5a, b, 11:1, 4, 6, 12:3-5, 13:1a, Jos. Ant. XIV, 13:1, Jos. Jew. War, I, 13:7, 8c, 14:1b, 2, 4, 15:3, 4, 16:1, 17:1, 8, 9a, 18:1, 2c, 4a.
I. The Fruitless Struggle against Rome.–II. Antipater’s Policy.– III. Herod’s Early Record.–IV. The Parthian Conquest.–V. Herod Made King of the Jews.
Section CXVIII. HEROD’S POLICY AND REIGN
Jos. Jew. War, I, 19:1, 2a, 20:1, 2, 3b-4a, 21:13, 1-4, 6a-8a, 9a-10a, 11, 22:1-4, 23:1a, d, 2a-c, d-3a, 24:1a, 27:1, 2a, 6b, 28:1a, 29:2c, 30:5a, 31:1a, 33:1, 7, 8a.
I. Herod’s Character.–II. His Attitude toward Rome. III. His Building Activity.–IV. His Attitude toward His Subjects.–V. The Tragedy of His Domestic Life.–VI. Effects of His Reign.
Section CXIX. HEROD’S TEMPLE
Jos. Ant. XV, 11:1a, 2c, 3a-l, 4a, g, 5a-g, h-k, 6.
I. Herod’s Motives.–II. Preparations for the Rebuilding of the Temple.– III. The Approaches to the Temple.–IV. The Organization of the Temple.
Section CXX. THE MESSIANIC HOPES AND THE RELIGIOUS BELIEFS OF JUDAISM
Sibyl. Oracles, III, 7:67-84, 17:23-46, Enoch 46:1-3, 48:3-6, 49:27-29, 51:1, 2.
I. The Growth of Israel’s Messianic Hopes.–II. The Kingly, Nationalistic Type of Messianic Hope.–III. The Apocalyptic, Catastrophic Type.–IV. The Ethical and Universalistic Type.–V. The Messianic Hopes of Judaism at the Beginning of the Christian Era.
APPENDIX I. A PRACTICAL BIBLICAL REFERENCE LIBRARY
APPENDIX II. GENERAL QUESTIONS AND SUBJECTS FOR SPECIAL RESEARCH.
LIST OF MAPS AND CHARTS
JEWISH AND CONTEMPORARY CHRONOLOGY FROM 597 TO 165 B.C.
THE EMPIRES OF BABYLONIA, PERSIA, AND ALEXANDER
THE JEWISH COMMUNITY IN PALESTINE DURING THE PERSIAN AND GREEK PERIODS
THE JERUSALEM OF NEHEMIAH
CHRONOLOGY OF THE MACCABEAN AND ROMAN PERIODS
PALESTINE DURING THE MACCABEAN PERIOD
* * * * *
THE EXILE AND THE REVIVAL OF THE JUDEAN COMMUNITY
Section XCI. THE JEWS IN PALESTINE AND EGYPT
[Sidenote: Lam. 2:1-5]
How the Lord hath beclouded in his anger the daughter of Zion! He hath cast down from heaven to earth the beauty of Israel, And he hath not kept in remembrance his footstool in the day of his anger. The Lord hath swallowed up without mercy every habitation of Jacob, He hath thrown down in his wrath the strongholds of the daughter of Judah, He hath struck to the ground, he hath polluted her king and her princes. He hath cut off in the fierceness of his anger all of Israel’s strength, He hath drawn back his right hand from before the enemy, He hath burnt in Jacob like a flame, which devours on all sides. He hath bent his bow as an enemy, he hath stood as an adversary, He hath slain all the desirable men in the tent of Zion, He hath poured out his fury as fire [on the daughter of Judah]. The Lord hath become like an enemy, he hath swallowed up Israel, He hath swallowed up all of his palaces, he hath destroyed his fortresses, And he hath multiplied in the daughter of Judah sighing and lamentation.
[Sidenote: Lam. 2:6,7]
He hath torn down as a vine his dwelling, he hath destroyed his assembling place,
He hath caused to be forgotten in Zion, fast day and sabbath, And hath spurned in his indignant anger, king and priest. The Lord hath rejected his altar, he hath abhorred his sanctuary,
He hath given up into the hands of the enemy the ark of the covenant, They have made a din in Jehovah’s house, as in the solemn feast day.
[Sidenote: Lam. 2:8-10]
Jehovah hath determined to destroy the wall of Zion, He hath stretched out the line, he hath not held back his hand from destroying,
He hath made rampart and wall lament, they mourn together, Her gates have sunk into the ground, he hath destroyed her defences, Her king and her princes are among the heathen, there is no law. Her prophets also receive from Jehovah no vision. Silent, upon the earth sit the elders of Zion; They cast dust upon their heads; they are girded with sackcloth; With heads bowed to earth are the daughters of Jerusalem.
[Sidenote: Lam. 5:1-7]
Remember, O Jehovah, what has befallen us, Look and see our disgrace.
Our inheritance is turned over to aliens, Our homes belong to foreigners.
We are orphans and fatherless,
Our mothers are like widows.
We drink our water for money,
Our wood comes to us by purchase.
The yoke upon our necks harasses us, We are weary, but find no rest.
We have given the hand to the Egyptians, And to the Assyrians, that we might be sated with food. Our fathers sinned and are no more,
While we bear their guilt.
[Sidenote: Lam. 5:8-13]
Slaves have dominion over us,
With none to deliver from their hand. We get our bread at the peril of our lives, Because of the sword of the wilderness.
Our skin becomes hot like an oven,
Because of the glowing heat of famine. They ravish the women in Zion,
The virgins in the cities of Judah. Princes are hanged up by the hand,
The person of the elders is not honored. The young men bear up the mill,
And the children stumble under the wood.
[Sidenote: Lam. 5:14-18]
The elders have ceased from the gate, The young men from their music.
The joy of our heart has ceased,
Our dance is turned into mourning.
The crown has fallen from our head; Woe to us! for we have sinned.
For this reason our heart is faint,
For these causes our eyes are dim;
For the mountain of Zion is desolate; The jackals walk over it.
[Sidenote: Jer. 43:8-12]
The word of Jehovah also came to Jeremiah in Tahpanhes, saying, Take great stones in thy hand, and bury them in the loose foundation in the brick-covered place before Pharaoh’s palace door in Tahpanhes in the sight of the men of Judah; and say to them, ‘Thus saith, Jehovah hosts, the God of Israel, “Behold, I will send and bring Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and will set his throne upon these stones that you have buried, and he shall spread his royal pavilion over them. And he shall come and shall smite the land of Egypt; such as are for death shall be given to death, and such as are for captivity shall be given to captivity, and such as are for the sword shall be given to the sword. And he will kindle a fire in the houses of the gods of Egypt, and will burn them and carry them away. And he shall wrap himself in the land of Egypt, as a shepherd puts on his mantle, and shall go forth from there in peace. He shall also break the obelisks of Heliopolis and the temples of the gods of Egypt shall he burn with fire.”‘
[Sidenote: Jer. 44:1-10]
The word that came to Jeremiah concerning all the Jews who dwelt in the land of Egypt, who dwelt at Migdol, Tahpanhes, Memphis, and in upper Egypt, saying, Thus saith Jehovah of hosts, the God of Israel, ‘Ye have seen all the evil that I have brought upon Jerusalem and upon all the cities of Judah; and behold, they are this day a desolation, and no man dwelleth in them, because of their wickedness which they have committed to provoke me to anger in that they went to offer sacrifices to other gods, that they knew not, neither they nor ye, nor your fathers. However, I constantly sent to them all my servants the prophets, saying, “Oh, do not this abominable thing that I hate.” But they neither hearkened nor inclined their ear to turn from their wickedness, to offer no sacrifice to other gods. And so my wrath and mine anger was poured forth and was kindled against the cities of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem, and they were wasted and desolate, as is now the case.’ Therefore now thus saith Jehovah, the God of hosts, the God of Israel, ‘Why do you commit a great Crime against yourselves to cut off from you man and woman, infant and sucking child, out of the midst of Judah so that ye leave none remaining, in that ye provoke me to anger with the work of your hands, offering sacrifice to other gods in the land of Egypt, whither ye have gone to sojourn, that ye may be cut off, and that ye may be an object of cursing and a reproach among all the nations of the earth? Have ye forgotten the crimes of your fathers, and the crimes of the kings of Judah, and the crimes of their princes, which they committed in the land of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? They are not humbled even to this day, neither have they feared nor walked in my law nor in my statutes that I set before you and before your fathers.’
[Sidenote: Jer. 44:11-13, 22]
‘Therefore thus saith Jehovah of hosts, the God of Israel: “Behold, I set my face against you for evil to cut off the remnant of Judah in the land of Egypt, and they shall fall by the sword and by famine; they shall die, small and great, and they shall be an object of execration, of astonishment, of cursing, and of reproach. For I will punish those who dwell in the land of Egypt, as I have punished Jerusalem, by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence, so that none of the remnant of Judah, who have gone into the land of Egypt to reside there, shall escape or be left to return to the land of Judah, to which they have a desire to return; for none shall return except as fugitives. And they who escape the sword shall return from the land of Egypt to the land of Judah, few in number; and all the remnant of Judah, who have gone into the land of Egypt to sojourn there shall know whose word shall be confirmed, mine or theirs.”‘
I. The Significance of the Destruction of the Hebrew State. The destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. resulted in a mighty Transformation of the life and thought of Israel. It marked the final Overthrow of the old Hebrew kingdoms, and the gradual rise of that new and important factor in human history known as Judaism. For over three centuries the Jews who survived the great catastrophe were helpless under the rule of the great world powers which in succession conquered southwestern Asia. For the great majority of the Jewish race it represented the beginning of that long exile which has continued until the present. Scattered from the desert of Sahara to the distant land of China, and from the Black Sea to the Indian Ocean, the different groups of exiles quickly began to adapt themselves to their changed surroundings and to absorb the new knowledge and the powerful influences which gradually transformed their beliefs and ideals. While their vision was vastly broadened by this contact, the danger and horror of being completely engulfed in the great heathen world bound the faithful more closely together, and in time made Judaism the solid, unbreakable rock that has withstood the assaults and the disintegrating forces of the ages. At first the survivors of the great catastrophe were stunned by the blow that had shattered their nation. They lived only in their memories of the past and in their hopes for the future. At last, in the long period of misery and enforced meditation, they began not only to accept but also to apply the eternal principles proclaimed by their earlier prophets. Thus amidst these entirely new conditions they gained a broader and deeper faith and were still further trained for the divine task of teaching mankind.
II. The Book of Lamentations. After describing the destruction of the little kingdom established at Mizpah under Gedaliah, the Hebrew historical records suddenly become silent. This silence is due to the fact that there was little of external interest to record. The real history of this tragic half-century is the record of the anguish and doubts and hopes in the hearts of the scattered remnants of the race. The little book of Lamentations expresses dramatically and pathetically the thoughts of the people as they meditated upon the series of calamities which gathered about the great catastrophe of 586 B.C. Like the ancient Torah, or five books of the Law, it contains a quintet of poems. These are very similar in theme and form to many of the psalms of the Psalter. In the first four the characteristic five-beat measure, by which the deep emotions, especially that of sorrow, were expressed, is consistently employed. Each of these four is also an acrostic, that is, each succeeding line or group of lines begins with a succeeding letter of the Hebrew alphabet. This acrostic form was probably adopted in order to aid the memory, and suggests that from the first these poems were written to be used in public. Even so the Jews of Jerusalem to-day chant them on each of their sabbaths beside the foundation walls of the great platform on which once stood their ruined temple. Although the artificial character of these poems tends to check the free expression of thought and feeling, it is possible to trace in them a logical progress and to feel the influence of the strong emotions that inspired them.
III. Authorship and Date of the Book. In theme and literary form these poems are so strikingly similar to Jeremiah’s later sermons that it was almost inevitable that tradition should attribute them to the great prophet of Judah’s decline. This tradition, to which is due the position of the book of Lamentations in the Greek and English Bibles, cannot be traced earlier than the Greek period. The evidence within the poems themselves strongly indicates that they were not written by Jeremiah. It is almost inconceivable that he would subject his poetic genius to the rigid limitations of the acrostic structure. Moreover, he would never have spoken of the weak Zedekiah, whose vacillating policy he condemned, in the terms of high esteem which appear in Lamentations 4:20. These poems also reflect the popular interpretation of the great national calamity, rather than Jeremiah’s searching analysis of fundamental causes. A careful study of Lamentations shows that chapters 2 and 4 were probably written by one who was powerfully influenced by Ezekiel’s thought. They both follow in their acrostic structure an unusual order of the Hebrew alphabet, differing in this respect from chapters 1 and 3. They have so many close points of contact with each other that it is safe to say that they are both from the same author. They reveal an intimate familiarity with events immediately following the destruction of Jerusalem and were probably written between 580 and 561 B.C., when Jehoiachin was liberated. Chapters 1 and 3 follow the regular order of the Hebrew alphabet and apparently represent the work of a later author or authors. Chapter 1 is full of pathos and religious feeling and is closely parallel in thought to such psalms as 42 and 137. Chapter 3 is a poetic monologue describing the fate and voicing the contrition of the righteous within the Judean community. Chapter 5, on the contrary, is in the three-beat measure and lacks the acrostic structure of the preceding chapters. Its style and point of view are so different from those of the preceding chapters that it must be the work of another author, who probably lived in the Persian period.
IV. Its Real Character. The purpose of the book of Lamentations was evidently, (1) to give appropriate expression to the feelings of the Jews who survived the destruction of Jerusalem, 586 B.C.; (2) to drive home the great lessons taught by their past history, and thus to arouse true repentance; and (3) to kindle in turn hopes regarding their future. Through them Jeremiah and Ezekiel live and speak again, but from the point of view of the people. These tragic poems also throw contemporary light upon the horrors of the final siege and capture of Jerusalem and upon the fate of those who survived.
V. Numbers and Fortunes of the Jews Who Remained in Palestine. The Jews actually carried into captivity constituted only a small part of the total population of Judah (cf. Section XC:ii). The peasants and the inhabitants of the towns outside Jerusalem remained undisturbed, except as some of them were doubtless drafted into the army which under Zedekiah undertook to defend Jerusalem against the Chaldeans. From the later record of Nehemiah’s work the names of many of these towns can be determined. In the north were Jericho, Geba, Mizpah, Anathoth, and Kirjath-jearim; in the centre, Netophah and Bethlehem; and in the south Tekoa, Keilah, and Bethzur. The lot of these, who are later known as the people of the land, was pitiable indeed. There are many references in Lamentations and Ezekiel to the persecutions to which they were subjected by their malignant foes, the Moabites and Ammonites on the east and the Philistines on the west. Even more cruel and aggressive were the Edomites, who had suffered many wrongs at the hands of the Hebrews. It was probably about this time that this half-nomadic people began to be driven northward by the advance of the Nabateans, an Arab people who came from the south. Dislodged from their homes, the Edomites took advantage of the weakness of the Jews and seized southern Judah, including the ancient capital Hebron. The doom which Ezekiel pronounces upon the Edomites in 25 is because of the revenge that they wreaked upon the Jews at this time. It is significant that Ezekiel’s sermons in the period immediately following the fall of Jerusalem contain dire predictions of divine vengeance upon all these foes. After the overthrow of Gedaliah’s kingdom, the Jews who remained in Palestine appear to have been left wholly without defences or defenders. Ezekiel, in 33:23-29, speaks of those who inhabit the waste places in the land of Israel, who live in the strongholds and the caves. Some of them appear to have turned robbers. Foreign settlers came in from every side and in time intermarried with the natives and led them into idolatry. Ezekiel sternly condemns their immorality and apostasy.
From the references in Jeremiah 41:5 and Ezra 3:3 it is clear that even during this reign of terror many of the people continued to offer sacrifices to Jehovah at the great altar cut in native rock which stood before the ruins of their temple in Jerusalem. Priests were also doubtless found in the land to conduct these services. The ancient feasts, however, with their joyous merrymaking and the resulting sense of divine favor, were no longer observed. Instead, the people celebrated in sackcloth and ashes the fasts commemorating the successive stages in the destruction of their city (Zech. 7:3-7). While their lot was pitiable and their character seemingly unpromising, these people of the land were important factors in the re-establishment of the Judean community.
VI. Fortunes of the Jews in Egypt. The narrative in Jeremiah states definitely that the large proportion of those who had rallied about Gedaliah after his death found a temporary asylum on the eastern borders of Egypt. Here they were beyond the reach of Chaldean armies and within the territory of the one nation which offered a friendly asylum to the Jewish refugees. Most of this later group of exiles settled at the towns of Tahpanhes and Migdol. The latter means tower and is probably to be identified with an eastern outpost, the chief station on the great highway which ran along the southeastern shore of the Mediterranean directly to Palestine and Syria.
The excavations of the Egypt Exploration Fund at Tahpanhes, which was the Daphnae of Herodotus, has thrown much light upon the home of this Jewish community. The town was situated in a sandy desert to the south of a marshy lake. It lay midway between the cultivated delta on the west and what is now the Suez Canal on the east. Past it ran the main highway to Palestine. Its founder, Psamtik I, the great-grandfather of Hophra, had built here a fort to guard the highway. Herodotus states that he also stationed guards here, and that until late in the Persian period it was defended by garrisons whose duty was to repel Asiatic invasions (II, 30). Here the Ionian and Carian mercenaries, who were at this time the chief defence of the Egyptian king, were given permanent homes. By virtue of its mixed population and its geographical position, Tahpanhes was a great meeting place of Eastern and Western civilization. Here native Egyptians, Greek mercenaries, Phoenician and Babylonian traders, and Jewish refugees met on common ground and lived side by side. It corresponded in these respects to the modern Port Said.
Probably in remembrance of the Jewish colony that once lived here, the ruins of the fort still bear an Arab name which means The Palace of the Jew’s Daughter. The term palace is not altogether inappropriate, for apparently the fort was occasionally used as a royal residence. Many wine-jars, bearing the seals of Psamtik, Hophra, and Amasis, have been found in the ruins. In the northwestern part of these ruins has been uncovered a great open-air platform of brickwork, referred to in Jeremiah 43:8-10. It was the place of common meeting found in connection with every Egyptian palace or private home. When Amasis, in 564 B.C., came to the throne of Egypt he withdrew the privileges granted by his predecessors to foreigners. The Greek colonists were transferred to Naukratis, and Tahpanhes lost most of its former glory. About this time, if not before, the great majority of the Jewish refugees, who had settled in these frontier towns, probably returned to Palestine to find homes in its partially depopulated towns.
Ezekiel from distant Babylon appears to have regarded the Jews in Egypt with considerable hope (Ezek. 29:21). But Jeremiah, who knew them better, was keenly alive to their faults. In their despair and rage many of them evidently rejected the teachings of the prophets and became devotees of the Aramean goddess, the Queen of Heaven, mentioned in the recently discovered Aramean inscription of Zakar, king of Hazrak (cf. Section LXV:vii). Jeremiah’s closing words to them, therefore, are denunciations and predictions that they should suffer even in the land of Egypt, at the hand of Nebuchadrezzar, the same fate that had overtaken their fellow-countrymen at Jerusalem. Both Jeremiah and Ezekiel (Ezek. 30) predicted that Nebuchadrezzar would invade and conquer Egypt. In 568 B.C. his army actually did appear on the borders of Egypt; but how far he succeeded in conquering the land is unknown. The complete conquest of Egypt certainly did not come until the Persian period under the leadership of the cruel Cambyses.
VII. The Jewish Colony at Elephantine. Jeremiah and Ezekiel also refer to the Jewish colonists at Memphis and at Pathros, which is the biblical designation of upper Egypt. Many of the colonists who had settled there had doubtless fled before the conquests of Jerusalem. The presence of a great number of Jews in Egypt at a later period indicates that even at this early date more exiles were probably to be found in Egypt than in Babylon. Recent discoveries on the island of Elephantine in the upper Nile, opposite the modern Assuan, have thrown new light upon the life of these Jewish colonists. These records consist (1) of a series of beautifully preserved legal documents written in Aramaic on papyrus and definitely dated between the years 471 and 411 B.C. They include contracts between the Jews residing on the island of Elephantine regarding the transfer of property and other legal transactions. They contain many familiar Jewish names, such as Zadok, Isaiah, Hosea, Nathan, Ethan, Zechariah, Shallum, Uriah, and Shemaiah. They indicate that by the earlier part of the Persian period a large and wealthy colony of Jewish traders and bankers was established on this island. They appear to have lived in a community by themselves, but in the heart of the city, side by side with Egyptians, Persians, Babylonians, Phoenicians, and Greeks, whose property In some cases joined their own. The Jews had their own court which ranked equally with the Persian and Egyptian law courts. Even native Egyptians, who had cases against the Jews, appeared before it. The names of Arameans and Arabs also appear in its lists of witnesses. From these contemporary documents it is clear that the Jews of upper Egypt enjoyed great privileges and entered freely into the life of the land. Ordinarily they married members of their own race; but the marriage of a Jewess with a foreigner is also reported. He appears, however, to have been a proselyte to Judaism, Another Jewess married an Egyptian and took oath by the Egyptian goddess Sati, suggesting that she had nominally at least adopted the religion of her husband. One Hebrew also bears the suggestive name of Hosea, the son of Petikhnum (an Egyptian name meaning _Gift of the god Khnum_).
VIII. The Temple of Yahu at Elephantine. These Aramaic legal documents also contain many references to Yahu (the older form of Yahweh or Jehovah), the god worshipped by the Jews, and to Yahu’s temple situated on King’s Street, one of the main thoroughfares of the city. These references have been signally confirmed by a most remarkable letter recently discovered by the Germans at this site. It was written in November of the year 408 B.C., by the members of the Jewish colony at Elephantine to Bagohi (the Bagoas of Josephus), the Persian governor of Judah. It states, among other things, that “Already in the days of the kings of Egypt our fathers had built this temple in the fortress of Elephantine. And when Cambyses (529-522 B.C.) entered Egypt he found this temple built, and, though the temple of the gods of Egypt were all at that time overthrown, no one injured anything in this temple.” It further states that recently (in the year 411 B.C.), in the absence of the Persian governor in Egypt, the foreigners in Elephantine had stirred up a certain minor official to instruct his son, who was commander of a neighboring fortress, to destroy the Jewish temple.
The Aramaic letter was intended to be sent, together with rich gifts, to influence the powerful Persian governor of Judah, Bagohi, to issue an order permitting the Jews to rebuild their temple. From this letter we learn that the temple of the God Yahu was built of hewn stone with pillars of stone in front, probably similar to those in the Egyptian temples, and had seven great gates built of hewn stone and provided with doors and bronze hinges. Its roof was wholly of cedar wood, probably brought from the distant Lebanon, and its walls appear to have been ceiled or adorned with stucco, as were those of Solomon’s temple. It was also equipped with bowls of gold and silver and the other paraphernalia of sacrifice. Here were regularly offered cereal-offerings, burnt-offerings, and frankincense. The petitioners also promised that, if the Persian officials would grant their request, “we will also offer cereal-offerings and frankincense and burnt-offerings on the altar in your name, and we will pray to God in your name, we and our wives and all the Jews who are here, if you do thus until the temple is built. And you shall have a portion before the God Yahu, the God of Heaven, from every one who offers to him burnt-offerings and sacrifices.”
Historical students have long been familiar with the fact that late in the Greek period the Jews of Egypt built a temple to Jehovah at Leontopolis, in the Delta (cf. Section CXV:iii); but these recent discoveries open an entirely new chapter in Jewish history. They indicate that probably within a generation after the destruction of the Jerusalem temple, in 586 B.C., the Jewish colonists in Egypt built for themselves far up the Nile, and possibly at other points in this land of their exile, a temple or temples to Jehovah; that they remained loyal to God and the institutions of their race; and that in the midst of cosmopolitan Egypt they preserved intact their racial unity. In the light of these discoveries it is also clear that because of their character and numbers and nearness to Palestine the Jews of Egypt, even at this early period, were a far more important factor in the life and development of Judaism than they have hitherto been considered. These discoveries also afford definite grounds for the hope that from this unexpected quarter much more valuable material will come to illumine this otherwise dark period of post-exilic Jewish history.
Section XCII. EZEKIEL’S MESSAGE TO HIS SCATTERED COUNTRYMEN
[Sidenote: Ezek. 37:1-6]
The hand of Jehovah was upon me, and he brought me by the spirit and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones. And he caused me to pass by them round about; and, behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley; and, lo, they were very dry. And he said to me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord Jehovah, thou knowest. Again he said to me, Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of Jehovah. ‘Thus saith Jehovah to these bones: “Behold I am about to put breath into you, that ye may live. And I will put sinews on you, and will clothe you with flesh, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, that ye may live; and know that I am Jehovah.”‘
[Sidenote: Ezek. 37:7-10]
So I prophesied as he commanded me: and as I prophesied, there was an earthquake; and the bones came together, bone to its bone. And I beheld, and, lo, there were sinews upon them, and flesh had clothed them, and skin covered them; but there was no breath in them. Then he said to me, Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, ‘Thus saith Jehovah: “Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.”‘ So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great host.
[Sidenote: Ezek. 37:11-14]
Then he said to me, O man, these bones are the whole house of Israel; behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are completely ruined.’ Therefore prophesy, and say to them, ‘Thus saith Jehovah: “Behold, I will open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people; and I will bring you into the land of Israel. And ye shall know that I am Jehovah, when I have opened your graves, and raised you from your graves, O my people. And I will put my spirit in you, that ye may live, and I will restore you to your own land: that ye may know that I, Jehovah, have spoken it and performed it,” is the oracle of Jehovah.’
[Sidenote: Ezek. 37:15-23]
This word also came to me from Jehovah: Do thou, O man, take a stick, and write upon it, JUDAH AND THE ISRAELITES ASSOCIATED WITH HIM: then take another stick, and write upon it, JOSEPH, AND ALL THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL ASSOCIATED WITH HIM. Then join them together, so that they may become one stick in thy hand. And when the children of thy people shall say to thee, ‘Wilt thou not show us what this means?’ say to them, ‘Thus saith Jehovah: “Behold, I am about to take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel associated with him; and I will unite them with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be united in my hand.”‘ And let the sticks on which thou writest be in thy hand before their eyes. And say to them, ‘Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: “Behold, I am about to take the Israelites from among the nations, whither they are gone, and gather them from all sides, and bring them into their own land: and I will make them one nation in the land, upon the mountains of Israel; and there shall be one king over them all; and they shall be no longer two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any longer; nor shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions; but I will save them from all their apostasies wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them; so shall they be my people, and I will be their God.”‘
[Sidenote: Ezek. 37:24-28]
‘”And my servant David shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in mine ordinances, and observe my statutes, and do them. And they shall dwell in the land that I have given to my servant Jacob, wherein their fathers dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, they and their sons, forever. And David my servant shall be their prince forever. Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; and I will establish them, and multiply them, and set my sanctuary in the midst of them forevermore. My dwelling place also shall be with them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And the nations shall know that I am Jehovah who sanctifieth Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them forevermore.”‘
[Sidenote: Ezek. 40:1-4]
In the twenty-fifth year of our captivity, in the beginning of the year, in the tenth day of the month, in the fourteenth year after the city was taken, on that very day, the hand of Jehovah was laid upon me, and he brought me in an inspired vision to the land of Israel, and set me down upon a very high mountain, on which was a city-like building toward the south. Thither he brought me, and there was a man whose appearance was like the appearance of bronze, with a flaxen line and a measuring reed in his hand; and he was standing in the gateway. And the man said to me, Son of man, behold with thine eyes, and hear with thine ears, and give heed to all that I shall show thee; for, in order that thou shouldst be shown it wert thou brought hither; declare all that thou seest to the house of Israel.
[Sidenote: Ezek. 40:5]
There was a wall encircling a temple, and in the man’s hand a measuring reed six cubits long, each cubit being equal to about twenty-one inches. And he measured the thickness of the building one reed (about ten and one-half feet); and the height one reed.
[Sidenote: Ezek. 40:6-12]
Then he came to the east gateway and went up its steps and measured the threshold of the gate one reed wide. And each guard-room was one reed long, and one reed broad; and between the guard-rooms were spaces of five cubits; and the threshold of the gate at the vestibule of the gate on the inner side was one reed. Then he measured the vestibule of the gate, eight cubits, and its jambs, two cubits; and the vestibule of the gate was on the inner side. And the guard-rooms of the east gate were three on each side; and all three were of the same dimensions; and the posts were on both sides. And he measured the breadth of the entrance to the gateway, ten cubits; and the width of the gate, thirteen cubits; and there was a sill one cubit wide, before the guard-rooms on each side; and the guard-rooms, six cubits on both sides.
[Sidenote: Ezek. 40:13, 15]
And he measured the gate from the outer wall of the one guard-room to the outer wall of the other, twenty-five cubits wide [about forty-four feet]; door opposite door. And from the front of the gateway at the entrance to the front of the inner vestibule of the gate were fifty cubits.
[Sidenote: Ezek. 40:17, 19]
Then he brought me to the outer court, and there were chambers and a pavement made round about the court; thirty chambers were upon the pavement. And he measured its breadth from the front of the lower gate to the front of the inner court without, one hundred cubits on the east and on the north.
[Sidenote: Ezek. 40:20, 21b, 24b]
And the north gateway of the outer court, he measured its length and breadth. And its measurements were the same as those of the east gateway. The dimensions of the gateway on the south were also the same as the others.
[Sidenote: Ezek. 40:44-47]
He brought me outside the gate and into the inner court, and there were two chambers on the inner court, one by the north gate, facing the south, and the other by the south gate, facing the north. And he said to me, This chamber which faces the south is for the priests who have charge of the temple; and the chamber which faces the north is for the priests who have charge of the altar; they are the sons of Zadok, those of the sons of Levi who may be near to Jehovah to serve him. And he measured the court, a hundred cubits wide, and a hundred cubits broad–a perfect square. The altar was in front of the temple.
[Sidenote: Ezek. 41:1,2]
Then he brought me into the hall of the temple and measured the jambs, six cubits on each side. And the breadth of the entrance was ten cubits; and the sides of the entrance were five cubits on each side; and he measured its length, forty cubits; and its width, twenty cubits.
[Sidenote: Ezek. 41:3, 4]
Then he went into the inner room and measured the jambs of its entrance, two cubits; and the entrance, six cubits; and the side-walls of the entrance, seven cubits on each side. And he measured its length, twenty cubits, and its breadth, twenty cubits, before the hall of the temple. And he said to me, This is the most holy place.
[Sidenote: Ezek. 41:5-8a]
Then he measured the thickness of the wall of the temple, six cubits; and the width of the side-chambers, four cubits, round about the temple on every side. And the side-chambers were in three stories, one above another, and thirty in each story; and there were abatements all around the walls of the temple that the side-chambers might be fastened to them and not to the walls of the temple. And the side-chambers became wider as they went up higher and higher, for the temple grew narrower higher up; and there was an ascent from the lowest story to the highest through the middle story. And I saw also that the temple had a raised platform round about.
[Sidenote: Ezek. 43:1-5]
Then he brought me to the east gate. And behold the glory of the God of Israel came from the east; and his voice was like the sound of many waters; and the earth shone with his glory. And the vision which I saw was like that which I saw when he came to destroy the city; and the visions were like that which I saw by the River Chebar; and I fell on my face. Then the glory of Jehovah came into the temple through the east gate. And the spirit took me up, and brought me into the inner court; and, behold, the glory of Jehovah filled the temple.
[Sidenote: Ezek. 43:6-9]
Then I heard One speaking to me from the temple, as he stood by me. And he said to me, O man, this is the place of my throne, and the place for the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the Israelites forever. And the house of Israel, they and their kings, shall no more defile my holy name with their idolatry and with the corpses of their kings by placing their thresholds by my threshold, and their door-posts by my door-post, with only a wall between me and them, thus defiling my holy name by the abominations which they have committed; therefore I have destroyed them in mine anger. Now let them put away their idolatry, and the corpses of their kings far from me, that I may dwell in the midst of them forever.
[Sidenote: Cor. Ezek. 44:9-14]
Therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah, ‘No foreigner, consecrated neither in heart nor flesh, of all the foreigners who are among the Israelites, shall enter my sanctuary. But those Levites who went far from me, when Israel went astray, who went astray from me after their idols, shall bear their guilt. Yet they shall be ministers in my sanctuary, having oversight at the gates of the temple, and ministering in the temple; they shall slay the burnt-offering and the sacrifice for the people, and they shall stand before them and minister to them. Since they were wont to minister to them before their idols and were a stumbling block of iniquity to the house of Israel; therefore I have taken a solemn oath against them,’ is the oracle of the Lord Jehovah, ‘and they shall bear their guilt. And they shall not approach me to act as priests to me, so as to come near any of my sacred things, or to those which are most sacred; but they shall bear their shame and the punishment for the abominations which they have committed; I will make them responsible for the care of the temple, for all its service, and for all that shall be done therein.
[Sidenote: Cor. Ezek. 44:15-16]
But the priests, the Levites, the sons of Zadok, who took charge of my sanctuary when the Israelites went astray from me, shall come near to me to minister to me, and they shall stand before me to offer to me fat and blood,’ is the oracle of the Lord Jehovah. ‘They shall enter my sanctuary, and they shall approach near to my table to minister to me, and they shall keep my charge.
[Sidenote: Cor. Ezek. 44:23-24]
And they shall teach my people the difference between the sacred and the common, and instruct them how to discern between the clean and the unclean. And in a controversy they shall act as judges, judging it according to my ordinances. And they shall keep my laws and my statutes in all my appointed feasts; and they shall maintain the sanctity of my sabbaths.’
[Sidenote: Cor. Ezek. 45:2-5]
When ye allot the land as inheritance, ye shall offer as a special gift to Jehovah, a sacred portion of the land, five thousand cubits long, and twenty thousand cubits wide; it shall be sacred throughout its entire extent. And out of this area shalt thou measure off a space twenty-five thousand cubits long and ten thousand cubits wide, and on it shall the most holy sanctuary stand. It is a holy portion of the land; it shall belong to the priests who are the ministers in the sanctuary, who draw near to minister to Jehovah; and it shall be a place for their houses, and an open space for the sanctuary. Out of this a square of five hundred cubits shall be for the sanctuary, with an open space fifty cubits wide around it. And a space twenty-five thousand cubits long and ten thousand wide shall belong to the Levites, the ministers of the temple; it shall be their possession for cities in which to dwell.
[Sidenote: Cor. Ezek. 45:6-8]
And as the possession of the city, ye shall assign a space five thousand cubits wide, and twenty-five thousand long, beside the sacred reservation; it shall belong to the whole house of Israel. And the prince shall have the space on both sides of the sacred reservation and the possession of the city, on the west and on the east, and of the same length as one of the portions of the tribes, from the west border to the east border of the land. It shall be his possession in Israel; and the princes of Israel shall no more oppress my people, but shall give the land to the house of Israel according to their tribes.
I. The Home of the Exiles in Babylon. From the references in the contemporary writers it is possible to gain a reasonably definite idea regarding the environment of the Jewish exiles in Babylon. Ezekiel describes the site as “a land of traffic, a city of merchants, a fruitful soil, and beside many waters,” where the colony like a willow was transplanted [17:5]. The Kabaru Canal (the River Chebar of Ezekiel) ran southeast from Babylon to Nippur through a rich alluvial plain, intersected by numerous canals. Beside it lived a dense agricultural population. On the tells or artificial mounds made by the ruins of earlier Babylonian cities were built the peasant villages. Ezekiel speaks of preaching to the Jewish colony of Tel-Abib (Storm-hill), and the lists of those who later returned to Judah contain references to those who came from Tel-Melah (Salt-hill) and Tel-Harsha (Forest-hill).
II. Their Condition and Occupations. It is probable that these mounds were not far from each other and that the adjacent fields were cultivated by the Jewish colonists. Thus they were enabled, under even more favorable conditions than in Judah, to continue in their old occupations and to build houses and rear families as Jeremiah had advised (Jer. 29; Section LXXXVII:35). In Babylonia, as at Elephantine, so long as they paid the imperial tax and refrained from open violence they were probably allowed to rule themselves in accordance with their own laws. The elders of the different families directed the affairs of the community and acted as judges, except in the case of capital offences which were punished in the name of Nebuchadrezzar (Jer. 29 22). Thus for a long time the exiles constituted a little Judah within the heart of the Babylonian empire, maintaining their racial integrity even more completely than the Jews resident in Egypt.
Babylonia was the scene of an intense commercial activity. The opportunities and allurements of the far-reaching traffic which passed up and down the great rivers and across the neighboring deserts were eventually too strong for the Jews to resist. Hence in Babylonia, as in Egypt, they gradually abandoned their inherited agricultural habits and were transformed into a nation of traders. In the recently discovered records of the transactions of the famous Babylonian banking house which flourished during the earlier part of the Persian period, under the direction of succeeding generations of the Murashu family, are found many familiar Jewish names. These indicate that within a century after the fall of Jerusalem many sons of the exiles had already won a prominent place in the commercial life of that great metropolis.
III. Their Religious Life. With this transformation in their occupation came a great temptation to forget their race and to lose sight of its ideals. The temptation was all the greater because their capital city and temple were in ruins and the belief was widely held that Jehovah had forsaken his land and people and retired to his “mount in the uttermost parts of the north” (Isa. 14:13 Ezek. 1:4). Their actual experiences had proved so fundamentally different from their hopes that there was undoubtedly in the minds of many a dread doubt as to whether Jehovah was able to fulfil his promises. False prophets were also present to mislead the people (Jer. 39:21-23 Ezek. 13:1-7 14:8-10). There is also no indication that the Jews of Babylon ever attempted to build a temple to Jehovah in the land of their captivity. Hence there were no ancient festivals and public and private sacrifices and impressive ceremonials to kindle their religious feelings and to keep alive their national faith. Instead, the imposing religion of the Babylonians, with its rich temples, its many festivals, its prosperous and powerful priesthood, and its elaborate ritual must have profoundly impressed them and led them to draw unfavorable comparisons between it and the simple services of their pre-exilic temple. Nevertheless, in spite of these temptations, there were many who proved themselves loyal to Jehovah. Prayer and fasting and sabbath observance took the place of sacrificial rites. A strong emphasis is laid by Ezekiel on the sabbath. [Sidenote A: Ezekiel 20:12-31; Ezekiel 22:26; Ezekiel 23:38] From this time on it became one of the most important and characteristic institutions of Judaism. Under the influence of the new situation it lost much of its original, philanthropic, and social character and became instead a ceremonial institution. In faithfully observing it the exiles felt that even in captivity they were paying homage to their divine King. The more it took the place of the ancient feasts and sacrifices, the more they forgot that the sabbath was God’s gift to toiling man rather than man’s gift to God. From the Babylonian exile, also, probably dates that custom of assembling on the sabbath to read the ancient scriptures which represents the genesis of the later synagogue and its service.
IV. The Prophecies of Ezekiel. The priest-prophet Ezekiel was the interpreter, pastor, and guide of the Babylonian exiles. He met their problems and proposed the solutions which became the foundation principles of later Judaism. His prophecies fall naturally into four distinct groups: (1) Chapters 1 to 24, which recount his call and deal with the issues at stake in the different Judean communities in the critical years between the first and second captivities. They represent the prophet’s work between the years 592 and 586 B.C. (2) Chapters 25 to 32, include seven oracles regarding Ammon, Moab, Edom, Philistia, Tyre, and Egypt, the nations which had taken part in the destruction of Jerusalem or else, like Egypt, had lured Judah to its ruin. The complete destruction of these foes is predicted, and chapter 32 concludes with a weird picture of their fate, condemned by Jehovah to dwell in Sheol, the abode of the shades. (3) Chapters 33 to 39 contain messages of comfort and promise to Ezekiel’s fellow-exiles in Babylonia and in the distant lands of the dispersion. They are dated between the years 586 and 570 B.C. (4) Chapters 40 to 48 present Ezekiel’s plan for the restored temple and service and for the redistribution of the territory of Canaan, and his belief that Judah’s fertility would be miraculously increased. This plan is definitely dated in the year 572 B.C., two years before the prophet’s death.
V. The Resurrection of the Dead Nation. Ezekiel dealt with the problems of his fellow-exiles concretely and from a point of view which they could readily understand. He fully realized that if the faith of the people was to be saved in this crisis a definite hope, expressed in objective imagery, must be set before them. With the same inspired insight that had prompted Jeremiah to purchase his family estate in the hour of Jerusalem’s downfall, Ezekiel saw that Jehovah would yet restore his people, if they would but respond to the demands of this crisis. His message was, therefore, one of hope and promise. In the memorable chapter in which he pictures a valley filled with dry bones, he aimed to inspire their faith by declaring that Jehovah was not only able but would surely gather together the dismembered parts of the nation and impart to it new life and activity. The prophet was clearly speaking of national rather than of individual resurrection. Like Jeremiah, he anticipated that the tribes of the north and south would again be united, as in the days of David, and that over them a scion of the Davidic house would rule as Jehovah’s representative. He also assured them that Jehovah would come again to dwell in the midst of his purified and restored people.
VI. The Divine Shepherd. In the thirty-fourth chapter Ezekiel deals with the same theme under a different figure. First he traces the cause of the exile to the inefficiency and greed and oppression of the earlier shepherds, the rulers like Jehoiakim, who had scattered rather than gathered and led the people intrusted to them. Now Jehovah himself, the great Shepherd of the People, will arise and gather his flock, and lead them back to their home and give them a rich pasture. Over them he will appoint a descendant of David, but this prince shall be shorn of his ancient kingly power.
Ezekiel also presents in his characteristic, symbolic form the promise that Jehovah will now fulfil the popular hopes and destroy the wicked foes who have preyed upon his people, and thus vindicate his divine rulership of the world. In one passage Judah’s worst foes, the Edomites, represent aggressive heathendom. Again, in a still more impressive picture, suggested by an experience in his own childhood when the dread Scythians swept down from the north, he portrays the advance of the mysterious foes from the distant north under the leadership of Gog (38, 39). When they are already in the land of Palestine, the prophet declares, Jehovah will terrify them with an earthquake, so that in panic they shall slay each other, as did the Midianites in the days of Gideon, until they shall all fall victims of Jehovah’s judgment. Ezekiel thus revived in the changed conditions of the exile that popular conception of the day of Jehovah which the earlier prophets had refused to countenance. It was the prophet’s graphic way of declaring that Jehovah would prepare the way for the return of his people, if they would but respond when the opportune moment should arrive. Later Judaism, however, and especially the apocalyptic writers, interpreted literally and developed still further this picture of Jehovah’s great judgment day until it became a prominent teaching of later Jewish and Christian thought.
Similarly Ezekiel declared that the barren lands of Judah would be miraculously transformed and rendered capable of supporting the great numbers of the exiles who should return. In this respect Ezekiel became the father of the later priestly school to which belongs the author of the book of Chronicles, in whose thought the events of Israel’s history came to pass, not through man’s earnest effort and in accordance with the established laws of the universe, but through special divine interposition. It is difficult to determine whether Ezekiel himself was simply endeavoring to state dramatically that Jehovah would fully anticipate the needs of his people, or whether he did actually anticipate a series of prodigious miracles.
VII. Ezekiel’s Plan of the Restored Temple. Ezekiel, being a true prophet, fully realized that the fundamental question regarding the future of his race was not whether they would be restored to their home but whether or not they would guard against the mistakes and sins of the past and live in accord with Jehovah’s just demands. The solution of this question which he proposes reveals his priestly training. With infinite pains and detail he develops the plan of a restored temple and ritual. The details were doubtless in part suggested by his remembrance of the temple at Jerusalem and in part taken from the great temples of Babylon. By means of this elaborate picture he declared his firm conviction that his race would surely be restored. His chief purpose, however, was to impress upon the minds of his people the transcendent holiness of Jehovah and the necessity that he be worshipped by a holy people. The entire plan of the temple, of the ritual, and even of the allotment of the territory of Canaan was intended to enforce this idea. His plan, if adopted, was calculated to deliver the people from the temptations and mistakes of the past. With this end in view Jehovah’s sacred abode was guarded with massive double walls and huge gateways. Only the priests were allowed to enter the inner court, and a sharp distinction was made between the priests who were the descendants of Zadok and the Levites whose fathers had ministered at the many sanctuaries scattered throughout the land of Israel. The territory immediately adjacent to the temple was assigned to the priests and Levites, and its sanctity was further guarded on the east and west by the domains of the prince. His chief function was, not to rule, as had the selfish and inefficient tyrants who had preceded him, but to provide the animals and the material requisite for the temple service. The territory on the north and the south of the temple was assigned to the different tribes of Israel.
No political or social problems clouded the prophet’s vision. The entire energies of priest, Levite, prince, and people were to be devoted to the worship of the Holy One, whose restored and glorified sanctuary stood in their midst. Thus it was that Ezekiel reversed the ideals of the pre-exilic Hebrew state and presented that programme which with many modifications was adopted in principle at least by the post-exilic Judean community. In place of the monarchy appeared the hierarchy; instead of the king the high priest became both the religious and the civil head of the nation. Soon the Davidic royal line disappeared entirely, and the interests of the people centred more and more about the temple and its ritual. Although Ezekiel’s vision was not and could not be fully realized, except by a series of miracles, this devoted priest-prophet of the exile was in a large sense the father of Judaism.
Section XCIII. THE CLOSING YEARS OF THE BABYLONIAN RULE
[Sidenote: II Kings 25:27-30]
Now it came to pass in the thirty-seventh year of the captivity of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twenty-seventh day of the twelfth month, Evil-merodach king of Babylon, in the year in which he became king, (561 B.C.) lifted up Jehoiachin king of Judah from prison to a position of honor. And he spoke kindly to him and placed his seat above the seats of the kings who were with him in Babylon, and changed his prison garments. And Jehoiachin ate with him continually as long as he lived. And for his support a continual allowance was given him by the king, each day a portion, as long as he lived.
[Sidenote: Isa. 9:1-3]
The people who have been walking in darkness see a great light, Those who dwell in the land of deepest gloom, upon them a light shines. Thou multipliest the exultation, thou makest great the rejoicing, They rejoice before thee as men rejoice at harvest time, As men are wont to exult when they divide spoil.
[Sidenote: Isa. 9:4, 5]
For the burdensome yoke and the crossbar on his shoulder, The rod of his taskmaster, thou breakest as in the day of Midian. For every boot of the warrior with noisy tread, And every war-cloak drenched in the blood of the slain Will be completely burned up as fuel for the flame.
[Sidenote: Isa. 9:6, 7]
For a child is born, to us a son is given, And dominion shall rest upon his shoulder; And his name will be Wonderful Counsellor, Godlike Hero, Ever-watchful Father, Prince of Peace. To the increase of his dominion and to the peace there shall be no end, On the throne of David and throughout his kingdom, To establish and uphold it by justice and righteousness Henceforth and forever. The jealousy of Jehovah will accomplish this.
[Sidenote: Isa. 11:1, 2]
A sprout shall spring from the stock of Jesse, And a shoot from his roots shall bear fruit. The spirit of Jehovah shall rest upon him. A spirit of wisdom and insight,
A spirit of counsel and might,
A spirit of knowledge and the fear of Jehovah.
[Sidenote: Isa. 11:3-6]
He will not judge according to what his eyes see, Nor decide according to what his ears hear; But with righteousness will he judge the helpless, And with equity will he decide for the needy in the land.
He will smite an oppressor with the rod of his mouth, And with the breath of his lips will he slay the guilty. Righteousness will be the girdle about his loins, And faithfulness the band about his waist.
[Sidenote: Isa. 11:6-8]
Then the wolf will be the guest of the lamb, And the leopard will lie down with the kid; The calf and the young lion will graze together, And a little child shall be their leader. The cow and the bear shall become friends, Their young ones shall lie down together, And the lion shall eat straw like the ox; The suckling will play about the hole of the asp, And the weaned child will stretch out his hand toward the viper’s nest.
[Sidenote: Isa. 11:9, 10]
Men shall not harm nor destroy
In all my holy mountain;
For the earth shall have been filled with knowledge of Jehovah As the waters cover the sea.
And it shall come to pass in that day, That the root of Jesse who is to stand as a signal to the peoples– To him shall the nations resort,
And his resting-place shall be glorious.
[Sidenote: Isa. 13:2-4]
Upon a treeless mountain lift up a signal, raise a cry to them, Wave the hand that they may enter the princely gates. I myself have given command to my consecrated ones, to execute my wrath, I have also summoned my heroes, my proudly exultant ones. Hark, a tumult on the mountains, as of a mighty multitude! Hark, an uproar of kingdoms, of gathered nations! It is Jehovah of hosts mustering the martial hosts.
[Sidenote: Isa. 13:17-22]
I will punish the earth for its wickedness, and the wicked for their iniquity,
I will still the arrogance of the proud, and lay low the presumption of tyrants.
Behold, I stir up against them the Medes, Who consider not silver, and take no pleasure in gold, On children they will look with no pity, they have no compassion on the fruit of the womb,
And Babylon, the most beautiful of kingdoms, the proud glory of the Chaldeans, shall be,
As when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah.
It shall be uninhabited forever, and tenantless age after age; No nomad shall pitch there his tent, nor shepherds let their flocks lie down there,
But wild cats shall lie there, and their houses shall be full of jackals; Ostriches shall dwell there, and satyrs shall dance there, Howling beasts shall cry to each other in its castles, and wolves in its revelling halls;
Its time is near at hand, its day shall not be extended.
[Sidenote: Ezra 6:3-5]
In the first year of Cyrus the king, Cyrus the king made a decree: Concerning the house of God in Jerusalem–this house shall be rebuilt, where they offer sacrifices and bring him offerings made by fire. Its height shall be sixty cubits and its breadth sixty cubits, It shall be constructed with three layers of huge stones and one layer of timber. And let the expenses be paid out of the king’s treasury. Also let the gold and silver vessels of the house of God, which Nebuchadrezzar took from the temple at Jerusalem and brought to Babylon, be restored and brought again to the temple which is at Jerusalem, each to its place, and you shall put them in the house of God.
[Sidenote: Ezra 5:14, 15]
Now the gold and silver vessels of the house of God which Nebuchadrezzar took from the temple at Jerusalem and brought to the temple in Babylon, those Cyrus the king took out of the temple in Babylon, and they were delivered to one by the name of Sheshbazzar, whom he had made governor. And he said to him, Take these vessels; go, put them in the temple at Jerusalem, and let the house of God be rebuilt in its place.
[Sidenote: Ezra 1:5, 6; I Esdr. 5:1-6] Then the heads of the fathers’ houses of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and the Levites, even all whose spirit God had stirred to go up to build the temple of Jehovah which is at Jerusalem, arose. And all those who were about them supplied them with silver vessels, with gold, with goods, and with beasts, and with precious things, besides all that was voluntarily offered.
These are the names or the men who went up, according to their tribes, by their genealogy. Of the priests the sons of Phinehas, the son of Aaron: Jeshua the son of Jozadak, the son of Seriah. And there rose up with him Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel of the house of David, of the family of Peres, of the tribe of Judah; in the second year of Cyrus king of Persia in the first day of the month Nisan.
[Sidenote: Ezra 3:2-4, 6b]
Then Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and his kinsmen the priests, and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and his kinsmen arose and built the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt-offerings on it, as prescribed in the law of Moses the man of God. And they set up the altar in its place; for fear, because of the peoples dwelling in the land, had come upon them, but they plucked up courage and offered burnt-offerings to Jehovah, even burnt-offerings morning and evening. And they kept the feast of booths as it is prescribed, and offered the fixed number of daily burnt-offerings according to the direction for each day; but the foundation of the temple of Jehovah was not yet laid.
I. The Transformation of the Jews into a Literary People. The destruction of Jerusalem transformed the Jewish peasants of Palestine into a literary race. Before the final destruction of Jerusalem they had lived together in a small territory where communication was easy and the need of written records but slight. The exile separated friends and members of the same families, and scattered them broadcast throughout the then known world. The only means of communicating with each other in most cases was by writing, and this necessity inevitably developed the literary art. The exiles in Babylonia and Egypt were also in close contact with the two most active literary peoples of the ancient world. In countries where almost every public or private act was recorded in written form, and where the literature of the past was carefully preserved and widely transcribed, it was inevitable that the Jews should be powerfully influenced by these examples. Furthermore, the teachers of the race, prophets and priests alike, prevented by the destruction of the temple from employing their former oral and symbolic methods of instruction, resorted, as did the priest Ezekiel, to the pen. Thus the religious thought and devotion of the race began to find expression in its literature.
The incentives to collect the earlier writings of the priests and prophets were also exceedingly strong, for the experiences and institutions of their past, together with their hopes for the future, were the two main forces that now held together the Jewish race. Fortunately, the more intelligent leaders realized, even before 586 B.C., that the final catastrophe was practically certain, and therefore prepared for it in advance. The decade between the first and second captivities also gave them an opportunity to collect the more important writings of their earlier prophetic and priestly teachers, while the Judean state was still intact and while these earlier writings could be readily consulted. II. The Literary Activity of the Babylonian Period. The literary work of this period took three distinct forms: (1) The collection, compilation, and editing of earlier historical writings. It was probably during this period that the narratives of Judges, of Samuel, and Kings, which carried the history down into the exile itself, received their final revision. (2) Earlier writings were revised or supplemented so as to adapt them to the new and different conditions. Thus the sermons of the pre-exilic prophets, as for example those of Amos and Isaiah, were then revised and supplemented at many points. These earlier prophets had predicted doom and destruction for their nation; but now that their predictions had been realized what was needed was a message of comfort and promise. The fulfilment of their earlier predictions had established their authority in the minds of the people. The purpose of the later editors was evidently to put in the mouth of these earlier prophets what they probably would have said had they been present to speak at the later day to their discouraged and disconsolate countrymen. Studied in the light of these two fundamentally different points of view, the glaring inconsistencies which appear in the prophetic books are fully explained and the consistency of the earlier prophets vindicated.
The third form of literary activity is represented by the writings of Ezekiel. With the authority of a prophet, he dealt directly with the problem of his day, and the greater part of his book consists of the records of his prophetic addresses or of epistles which he sent to his scattered fellow-countrymen, even as Jeremiah wrote from Judah a letter to the distant exiles in Babylon. His new constitution for the restored Jewish state was also based on earlier customs and laws, but was adapted to the new needs of the changed situation. He was not the only one to undertake this task. Other priests gathered earlier groups of oral laws and put in written form the customs and traditions of the pre-exilic temple. At the same time they modified these earlier customs so as to correct the evils which past experience had revealed.
III. The Holiness Code. The chief product of the literary activity of the earlier part of the exile is the collection of laws found in the seventeenth to the twenty-sixth chapters of Leviticus. Because of its strong emphasis on the holiness of Jehovah and on the necessity that he be worshipped by a people both ceremonially and morally holy, it is now commonly designated as the Holiness Code. In theme, in point of view, in purpose, and in literary form it has many close points of contact with the writings of Ezekiel. In its original unity it evidently came from the period and circle of thought in which the great priest-prophet lived. His sermons, however, suggest that he was acquainted with its main teachings. In distinguishing sharply between the Jerusalem priests and the ministering Levites, and in prohibiting the marriage of a priest with a widow, Ezekiel shows that his work represented a slightly later stage in the development of Israel’s religious standards. The most probable date, therefore, for the Holiness Code is the decade between the first and second captivity (597-586 B.C.).
Like every ancient lawbook the Holiness Code contains many laws and regulations which evidently come from a much earlier period in Israel’s history. Some of its enactments are very similar to those of the primitive codes of Exodus 21-23. In spirit it is closely related to the book of Deuteronomy. It also reproduces many of the laws found in this earlier code. Both codes represent the fruitage of the teaching of the pre-exilic prophets and priests. Each contains ceremonial, civil, and moral laws; but the emphasis on the ritual is more pronounced in the Holiness Code. It consists of ten or eleven distinct groups of laws. In Leviticus 18 and 19 are found certain short decalogues. They probably represent the united efforts of the Judean prophets and priests during the Assyrian period to inculcate the true principles of justice, service, and worship in the minds of the people. Some of the laws in these earlier decalogues are the noblest examples of Old Testament legislation:
DUTIES TO OTHERS
[Sidenote: Kindness to the needy]
I. Thou shalt not wholly reap the corners of thy fields. II. Thou shalt not gather the gleanings of thy harvest. III. Thou shalt not glean thy vineyard.
IV. Thou shalt not gather the fallen fruit of thy vineyard. V. Thou shalt leave them for the poor and the resident alien.
[Sidenote: Honesty in business relations] VI. Ye shall not steal.
VII. Ye shall do no injustice, in measures of length, weight or of quantity.
VIII. Ye shall not deal falsely with one another. IX. Ye shall not lie to one another.
X. Ye shall not swear falsely by my name.
JUSTICE TO ALL MEN
[Sidenote: Toward dependents]
I. Thou shalt not oppress thy neighbor. II. Thou shalt not rob thy neighbor.
III. The wages of a hired servant shall not remain with thee all night until the morning.
IV. Thou shalt not curse the deaf.
V. Thou shalt not put a stumbling-block before the blind.
[Sidenote: Toward equals]
VI. Thou shalt not do injustice in rendering a judicial decision. VII. Thou shalt not show partiality to the poor. VIII. Thou shalt not have undue consideration for the powerful. IX. Thou shalt not go about as a tale-bearer among thy people. X. Thou shalt not seek the blood of thy neighbor [by bearing false testimony in court].
ATTITUDE TOWARD OTHERS
[Sidenote: In the heart]
I. Thou shalt not hate thy fellow-countryman in thy heart. II. Thou shalt warn thy neighbor and not incur sin on his account. III. Thou shalt not take vengeance.
IV. Thou shalt not bear a grudge against the members of thy race. V. Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
IV. The Liberation of Jehoiachin and the Hopes of the Jews. The liberation of Jehoiachin, the grandson of Josiah, from the Babylonian prison where he had been confined since the first capture of Jerusalem was the one event in the Babylonian period deemed worthy of record by the biblical historians. The occasion was the accession of Nebuchadrezzar’s son Evil-merodach (Babylonian, Amil-Marduk). The act possessed little political importance, for the Jews were helpless in the hands of their Babylonian masters; but it evidently aroused the hopes of the exiles, and especially that type of hope which centred in the house of David.
Ezekiel, in his ideal programme, assigned to the Davidic prince only minor duties in connection with the temple, and transferred the chief authority to the high priest and his attendants. But it is evident that Ezekiel did not fully voice the hopes of the majority of the exiles. The late passage in II Samuel 7:16, which contains the promise to David:
Thy house and kingdom shall always stand firm before me, Thy throne shall be established forever,
expresses the prevailing belief in the days immediately preceding the exile. The national hopes which looked to the descendants of the house of David for fulfilment were inevitably modified, however, by the experiences of the exile and strengthened by the liberation of Jehoiachin. The rule of such kings as Manasseh and Jehoiakim had revealed the overwhelming evils that unworthy rulers, even though of the house of David, could bring upon their subjects. Josiah’s reign, on the other hand, established new and higher standards. The noble ethical and social ideals of Amos, Hosea, and Isaiah had not wholly failed to awaken a response.
All of these varied influences are traceable in the two prophecies found in Isaiah 9:1-7 and 11:1-10. Embodying as they do many of the social principles for which Isaiah contended, it was natural that these anonymous writings should afterward be attributed to that great statesman-prophet. Jehovah, however, was the one supreme king whom Isaiah acknowledged; and it was difficult to find in his strenuous life a logical or historical setting for these kingly oracles. They also imply that the royal house of Judah had been struck down, and that the new king is to rise out of a background of gloom and is to inaugurate an entirely new era. The character and rule of this king of popular hopes reflect many of the traits of David and Josiah; but his aims and methods are in accord with the moral and social standards of the great pre-exilic prophets. They portray a temporal ruler; but the spirit which actuates him and the principles which guide him are noble and unselfish. As subsequent history clearly shows, the prophet or prophets who painted these portraits apparently hoped that a son or grandson of Jehoiachin would realize them. It is exceedingly probable in the light of the later predictions of Haggai and Zechariah (Sections XCIV, XCV) that these prophecies were written not long after the birth of Zerubbabel. The kingdom over which he was to rule and to which he was to bring perfect justice and peace was the prophetic counterpart of Ezekiel’s priestly plan of the restored and redeemed community. The ethical ideals thus concretely set forth were never fully realized in Israel’s troubled history; but they remain as valid and commanding to-day as they were far back in the Babylonian period. The abolition of all the insignia of war, the high sense of official responsibility, the protection of the weak by the strong, and the reign of perfect peace and harmony throughout all the earth are the goals for which all earnest, consecrated souls in every age and race are striving. It is natural and proper that the Christian Church should see in Jesus the fullest and truest realization of these ancient kingly ideals.
V. The Rule of Nabonidus. The successors of Nebuchadrezzar proved weak and inefficient. His dissolute son, Amil-Marduk, was soon murdered by his brother-in-law Nergalsharuzur (Gk. Neriglissar). This ruler is probably the Nergal-sharezer of Jeremiah 39:3 who directed the final capture and destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. After reigning four years he died, leaving the Babylonian empire to his young son, who soon fell a victim to a conspiracy of his nobles. They placed on the throne a certain Nabuna’id, who is known to the Greek historians as Nabonidus. He appeared to be more interested in excavating ancient ruins and in rebuilding old temples than in ruling his subjects. By his arbitrary religious policy and his neglect of the popular gods of the Babylonians, he completely alienated the loyalty of his people. During the latter part of his reign, which extended from 555 to 538 B.C., he left the government largely in charge of his son Belsharuzur, the Belshazzar of the story in Daniel.
VI. Rise and Conquests of Cyrus. While the Babylonian empire was sinking into decay, the Median kingdom on the north and east experienced a sweeping revolution. Its cause was the discontent of the older Median population under the rule of the more barbarous Umman-Manda. These later Scythian conquerors had, under their king Cyaxares, broken the power of Assyria and fallen heir to its eastern territory. The older elements found a leader in Cyrus, the king of Anshan, a little state among the mountains of Elam, northeast of Babylonia. From contemporary inscriptions it appears that the followers of Astyages, who succeeded Cyaxares to the Median throne, rebelled against their king and delivered him over into the hands of Cyrus. As soon as Cyrus became master of the Median Empire, he proved an able commander, a skilful politician, and a wise statesman. Recognizing that he could hold in control the diverse and turbulent elements in his heterogeneous kingdom only as he kept them actively occupied, he at once entered upon a series of campaigns which in the end left him undisputed master of southwestern Asia. In 547 B.C., two years after he became king of Media, he crossed the Tigris and conquered Mesopotamia, which had been held for a time by the Babylonians, Apparently he did not assume the title King of Persia until 546. Appreciating the great strength of Babylon, he did not at first attempt its capture, but began at once by intrigue to pave the way for its ultimate overthrow. In 545 he set out on a western campaign against Croesus, the king of Lydia, the ancient rival of Media. After a quick and energetic campaign, Sardis, the rich Lydian capital, was captured, and Cyrus was free to advance against the opulent Greek colonies that lay along the eastern shores of the Aegean. These in rapid succession fell into his hands, so that by 538 B.C. he was in a position to advance with a large victorious army against the mistress of the lower Euphrates.
VII. His Capture of Babylon. The campaigns of Cyrus were naturally watched with keen interest by the Jewish exiles in Babylonia. The songs in Isaiah 14, 15, and 21:1-10, and Jeremiah 51:29-31, voice their joyous expectation of Babylon’s impending humiliation. In a contemporary inscription Cyrus has given a vivid account of the fall of the capital. Early in October of the year 538 B.C. he assembled a large army on the northern borders of Babylonia. Here a battle was fought in which the Babylonians were completely defeated. The town of Sippar quickly surrendered to Cyrus’s general, and two days later the Persian army entered Babylon. The record states that the gates of the mighty city were opened by its inhabitants, and Cyrus and his followers were welcomed as deliverers. King Nabonidus was captured and banished to the distant province of Carmania, northeast of the Persian Gulf. In the words of Cyrus: “Peace he gave the town; peace he proclaimed to all the Babylonians.” In the eyes of the conquered, he figured as the champion of their gods, whose images he restored to the capital city. The temples as well as the walls of Babylon were rebuilt, and the king publicly proclaimed himself a devoted worshipper of Marduk and Nebo, the chief gods of the Babylonians. Thus from the first the policy of Cyrus in treating conquered peoples was fundamentally different from that of the Babylonians and Assyrians. They had sought to establish their power by crushing the conquered rather than by furthering their well-being; but Cyrus, by his many acts of clemency, aimed to secure and hold their loyalty.
VIII. His Treatment of Conquered Peoples. Cyrus showed the same wisdom in his treatment of the many petty peoples who had been ground down under the harsh rule of Babylon. In one of his inscriptions he declares: “The gods whose sanctuaries from of old had lain in ruins I brought back again to their dwelling-places and caused them to reside there forever. All of the citizens of these lands I assembled and I restored them to their homes” (Cyrus Cyl., 31, 32). In the light of this statement it is clear that the Jews, in common with other captive peoples, were given full permission to return to their homes and to rebuild their ruined temple. The decree of Cyrus recorded in the Aramaic document preserved in Ezra 6:3-5 is apparently the Jewish version of the general decree which he issued. It is also possible that he aided the vassal peoples in rebuilding their sanctuaries; for such action was in perfect accord with his wise policy. He also intrusted the rulership of different kingdoms as far as possible to native princes. In the Greek book of I Esdras has been preserved a list (which has fallen out of the biblical book of Ezra) of those who availed themselves of Cyrus’s permission to return to Palestine. It includes simply the priest Jeshua, or Joshua, the lineal heir of the early Jerusalem priestly line of Zadok, and Zerubbabel, a descendant of the Judean royal family. They doubtless took with them their immediate followers and were probably accompanied by a few exiles whose loyalty impelled them to leave the attractive opportunities in Babylon to face the dangers of the long journey and the greater perils in Palestine.
From Jeremiah 41:5 and Haggai 2:14 it appears that a rude altar had been built on the sacred rock at Jerusalem and that religious services were held on the site of the ruined temple soon after its destruction in 586 B.C. With the gifts brought back by Zerubbabel and his followers, daily sacrifices were probably instituted on the restored altar under the direction of the priest Joshua (cf. Hag. 2:10-14). In the light, however, of the oldest records it is clear that the revival of the Judean community in Palestine was gradual and at first far from glorious. The Jews were a broken-hearted, poverty-stricken, persecuted people, still crushed by the great calamity that had overtaken their nation. The general return of the exiles was only a dream of the future, and, despite the general permission of Cyrus, the temple at Jerusalem still lay in ruins.
Section XCIV. THE REBUILDING OF THE TEMPLE
[Sidenote: Hag. 1:1-6]
In the second year of Darius the king, in the first day of the sixth month, this word of Jehovah came by Haggai the prophet: Speak to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak the high priest, saying, ‘Thus saith Jehovah of hosts, “This people say: The time has not yet come to rebuild the temple of Jehovah.”‘ Then this word of Jehovah came by Haggai the prophet: Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your own ceiled houses, while this temple lies in ruins? Now therefore, thus saith Jehovah of hosts, ‘Consider your past experiences. Ye sow much, but bring in little; ye eat, but ye do not have enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled; ye clothe yourselves, but not so as to be warm; and he who earneth wages, earneth wages in a bag with holes.’
[Sidenote: Hag. 1:7-11]
Thus saith Jehovah of hosts, ‘Consider your experiences. Go up to the mountains, and bring wood and rebuild the temple; then I will be pleased with it, and I will reveal my glory,’ saith Jehovah. ‘Ye looked for much, and it came to little; and when ye brought it home, I blew upon it. Why?’ saith Jehovah of hosts. ‘Because of my temple that lieth in ruins, while ye are running each to his own house. Therefore the heavens withhold the dew, and the earth withholdeth its fruit. And I have called forth a drought upon the land and upon the mountains, and upon the grain and the new wine and the oil and upon that which the ground bringeth forth, and upon men and animals, and upon all the labor of the hands.’
[Sidenote: Hag. 1:12-15a]
Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and Joshua the son of Jehozadak the high priest, with all the rest of the people, obeyed the command of Jehovah their God and the words of Haggai the prophet, as Jehovah their God had sent him to them. The people also feared before Jehovah. And Jehovah stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Jehozadak the high priest, and the spirit of all the rest of the people, so that they came and worked on the temple of Jehovah of hosts, their God, in the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month.
[Sidenote: Hag. 1:15b-2:5]
In the second year of Darius the king, on the twenty-first day of the seventh month, this word from Jehovah came by Haggai the prophet: Speak to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua, the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to all the remnant of the people, saying, ‘Who is left among you that saw this temple in its former glory? and how do you see it now? Is it not in your eyes as nothing? Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel,’ is the oracle of Jehovah; ‘and be strong, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and be strong, all ye people of the land,’ is the oracle of Jehovah, ‘and work, for I am with you,’ is the oracle of Jehovah of hosts, ‘and my spirit abideth in your midst; fear not.’
[Sidenote: Hag. 2:6-9]
For thus saith Jehovah of hosts: ‘Yet a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land. And I will shake all nations, and the precious things of all nations shall come; and I will fill this temple with glory,’ saith Jehovah of hosts. ‘The silver is mine, and the gold is mine,’ is the oracle of Jehovah of hosts. ‘The later glory of this temple shall be greater than the former,’ saith Jehovah of hosts; ‘and in this place will I grant prosperity,’ is the oracle of Jehovah of hosts.
[Sidenote: Hag. 2:10-14]
In the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius, this word of Jehovah came by Haggai the prophet: Thus saith Jehovah of hosts: ‘Ask of the priests a decision, saying, “If one bear holy flesh in the skirt of his garment, and with his skirt touch bread, or pottage, or wine, or oil, or any food, shall it become holy?”‘ And the priests answered and said, No. Then said Haggai, If one that is unclean by reason of a dead body touch any of these, shall it be unclean? And the priests answered and said, It shall be unclean. Then answered Haggai and said, So is this people and so is this nation before me, is the oracle of Jehovah; and so is every work of their hands; and that which they offer there is unclean.
[Sidenote: Hag. 2:15-19]
And now, I pray you, think back from this day, before a stone was laid upon a stone in the temple of Jehovah; how were ye? When ye came to a heap of twenty measures, there were but ten; when ye came to the wine vat to draw out fifty vessels, there were but twenty. I smote with blasting and with mildew and with hail all the work of your hands; yet ye turned not to me, is the oracle of Jehovah. Think back from this day, think! Is the seed yet in the granary, yea, the vine and the fig tree and the pomegranate and the olive tree have not brought forth; from this day will I bless you.
[Sidenote: Hag. 2:20-22]
This word of Jehovah came the second time to Haggai in the twenty-fourth day of the month: Speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, and say: ‘I will shake the heavens and the earth; and I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms; and I will destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the nations; and I will overthrow the chariots, and those who ride in them; and the horses and their riders shall come down, each by the sword of his brother.
[Sidenote: Hag. 2:23]
‘In that day,’ is the oracle of Jehovah of hosts, ‘I will take thee, O Zerubbabel, my servant, the son of Shealtiel,’ is Jehovah’s oracle, ‘and will make thee as a seal-ring, for I have chosen thee,’ is the oracle of Jehovah of hosts.
[Sidenote: Ezra 5:3-5]
At that time Tattenai, the governor of the province beyond the River, and Shethar-bozenai and their associates came to them, and spoke thus to them, Who gave you permission to build this temple and to finish this wall? And who are the builders who are carrying this through? But the eye of their God was upon the elders of the Jews, so that they did not make them cease, until a report should come to Darius and a written decision concerning it be returned.
[Sidenote: Ezra 6:1-5]
Then Darius the king made a decree, and search was made in the archives where the official documents from Babylon had been deposited. And at Ecbatana, the royal palace in the province of Media, a roll was found, and in it was thus written: A record: In the first year of Cyrus the king, Cyrus the king made a decree: ‘Concerning the house of God at Jerusalem, let the house be rebuilt, where they offer sacrifices and bring him offerings made by fire; its height shall be sixty cubits, and its breadth sixty cubits. It shall be constructed with three layers of huge stones and one layer of timber; and let the expenses be paid out of the king’s treasury. Also let the gold and silver vessels of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took from the temple at Jerusalem and brought to Babylon, be restored and brought to the temple which is at Jerusalem, each to its place; and you shall put them in the house of God.’
[Sidenote: Ezra 6:6-12]
Now therefore, Tattenai, governor of the province beyond the River, Shethar-bozenai, and the rulers of the province beyond the River, go away from there; let the work of this house of God alone; let the elders of the Jews rebuild this house of God in its place. Moreover I make a decree in regard to what you shall do for these elders of the Jews for the building of this house of God: that out of the king’s wealth from the tribute of the province beyond the River the expenses be exactly paid to these men, and that without delay. And whatever is needed, both young bullocks and rams and lambs for burnt-offerings to the God of heaven, also wheat, salt, wine, and oil, according to the direction of the priests at Jerusalem, let it be given to them day by day without fail, that they may regularly offer sacrifices of sweet savor to the God of heaven, and pray for the life of the king and of his sons. Also I have made a decree, that whoever shall make this command invalid, a beam shall be pulled out from his house, and he shall be impaled upon it, and his house shall for this be made a refuse heap. And the God who hath caused his name to dwell there shall overthrow all kings and peoples who shall put forth their hand to make invalid the command or to destroy the house of God at Jerusalem. Exactly will it be executed.
[Sidenote: Ezra 6:13,14]
Then Tattenai, the governor of the province beyond the River, and Shethar-bozenai, and their associates did exactly as Darius the king had given command. And the elders of the Jews built and prospered. And they finished the building according to the command of the God of Israel and according to the decree of Cyrus and Darius.
I. The Books of Ezra and Nehemiah. The books of Ezra and Nehemiah are the chief sources of information regarding Jewish history during the Persian period. They fall into nine general divisions: (1) the return of the Babylonian exiles and the revival of the Judean community, Ezra 1-4;
(2) the rebuilding of the temple, 5-6; (3) Ezra’s expedition and the priestly reformation, 8-10, and Nehemiah 8-10; (4) Nehemiah’s work in rebuilding the walls, Nehemiah 1:1-7:5; (5) census of the Judean community, 7:6-69; (6) measures to secure the repopulation of Jerusalem, 11; (7) genealogy of the priests and Levites, 12:1-26; (8) dedication of the walls, 12:27-43; and (9) Nehemiah’s later reform measures, 12:44-13:31. It is evident that Ezra and Nehemiah were originally one book, and that they come from the same author as I and II Chronicles. This important fact is demonstrated by the presence of the same marked characteristics of thought and literary style in both of these books. The closing verses of II Chronicles are also repeated verbatim at the beginning of Ezra.
Throughout these books the interest is religious and ceremonial rather than civil and national. They constitute in reality a history of the Jerusalem temple and its institutions. The whole may properly be designated as the “Ecclesiastical History of Jerusalem.” It traces the history of Jerusalem and the southern kingdom from the earliest times to the close of the Persian period. Its author, who is commonly known as the Chronicler, evidently lived during the earlier part or middle of the Greek period. Certain characteristics of his literary style and point of view indicate that he wrote about 250 B.C. His peculiarities and methods of writing are clearly revealed by a comparison of the older parallel history of Samuel-Kings with the books of Chronicles. In general he lacks the historical spirit and perspective of the earlier prophetic historians. He also freely recasts his record of earlier events in order to bring it into accord with the traditions current in his own day. Above all he aimed to establish the authority and prestige of the Jerusalem temple, and to prove that Jehovah “was not with Israel” (II Chron. 25:7), which was represented in his day by the hated Samaritans. The hatred engendered by the Samaritan feud explains many of the peculiarities of the Chronicler. He was, in fact, an apologist rather than a historian. Thus post-exilic institutions, as, for example, the temple song service with its guilds of singers, are projected backward even to the days of David, and the events of early Hebrew history are constantly glorified. The numbers found in the earlier, prophetic sources are magnified, and at every point it is easy to recognize the influence of the Chronicler’s familiarity with the splendor and magnificence of the great Persian and Greek empires, and of his desire to inspire his fellow-Jews with national pride and with loyalty to their religious institutions.
II. The Chronicler’s Conception of the Restoration. Fortunately the Chronicler did not depend entirely upon traditions current in his day, or upon his own conceptions of the early history, but quoted freely from earlier sources. As a result a large portion of the prophetic history of Samuel and Kings is reproduced verbatim in I and II Chronicles. For the Persian period, regarding which he is our chief authority, he apparently quoted from three or four documents. In Ezra 4:7-23 is found a brief description in Aramaic of the opposition of Judah’s neighbors to the rebuilding of the walls, probably in the days of Nehemiah. In Ezra 5 and 6 there is another long quotation from an Aramaic document that describes a similar attempt to put a stop to the rebuilding of the temple in the days of Haggai and Zechariah. The Chronicler evidently believed that the second temple was rebuilt, not by the people of the land to whom Haggai and Zechariah spoke, but by Jewish exiles who on the accession of Cyrus had returned in great numbers from Babylon. He assumed that Judah had been depopulated during the Babylonian exile, and that the only people left in