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Of Cyrus's decree for building the temple of God in Jerusalem.
Having therefore spoken of his great victories, mentioned by sundry historians, the glory of all which was a reward of this his service done unto him that was author of them and of all goodness; I hold it meet at length to speak of the decree made in the first of his reign, being perhaps the first that ever he made after his possession of the Babylonian empire; that the captive Jews should return again into their own territory, and re-build the house of God in Jerusalem, having now endured and finished seventy years captivity, by the prophets foretold. For the accomplishing whereof, he gave order to his treasurers to furnish them with all things necessary and wanting. He also restored unto them five thousand four hundred and sixty-nine vessels of gold and silver, whereof Nabuchodonosor, the grandfather of Balthasar, had formerly robbed the temple.
The number of the Jews which returned out of Chaldaea under their leader Zerubbabel', the son of Shealtiel, and nephew to king Jechoniah, and Jesus4 Or Jeshua, the son of Jozadek, "were about fifty thousand; where, as soon as they arrived, they built an altar to the living God, and sacrificed thereon, according to their own law, and afterwards bethought themselves how to prepare materials for the rebuilding of the temple*.
But no sooner did the Jews begin to lay any one stone, than the Samaritans, and other idolatrous nations adjoining, gave all the impediment they could. So did the governors of those provinces under Cyrus altogether countenance the disturbers, and in no sort favoured the Jews, nor the labours nor purpo
1 1 Esd. 2. 2 Esd. 7. Phil, in Bre. 2 Esd. iii. 3. Esd. 5. Eld. 4. & Sf Josh. 1. Ant. 11. 1 Esd. ii. 10. Esd. ii. 1C. 1 Esd. v. 33. 1 Esd. 4. s. % Esd. 4.
ses they had in hand. And not only those which were but provincial lieutenants, and other officers of less place, but Cambyses himself, who having the diarge of the whole empire, while Cyrus was busied otherwise, countermanded the building begun. And whereas some authors make doubt, that whatsoever Cambyses did when himself had obtained the empire, yet, during the life of Cyrus, there was no such impediment or prohibition; they may herein resolve themselves out of Esdras, that, by the conspiracies of the neighbouring nations, the building was hindered all the time of king Cyrus's life, &c. And therefore it is true, what the Jews themselves affirm, as it is written in the second of John, that the temple was fortysix years in setting up, having received so many hindrances from the first foundation to the second of Darius.
And if we seek the natural and politic courses which moved Cambyses to withstand his father's decree, as well while he governed under him, as when himself became sole and sovereign monarch, we shall find them in that epistle remembered by Esdras, written by Belemus, Mithridates, and the rest, presidents and counsellors in Phoenicia, wherein they complain that the Jews were evermore rebellious and troublers of kings; that their city being once built, they would then refuse to pay tribute, and fall from the obedience of the empire, as they had formerly done in the times of other kings. But that which for that present seemed the most forcible impediment, was, that Cambyses having it in his resolution to invade Egypt, and that it was a common opinion that the Jews were descended of those nations, because they issued thence under Moses, when they conquered Juda;a, their city being
their old vomit, and give the same disturbance to Cambyses's conquest, which they did to Sennacherib, Nabuchodonosor, and other kings of Babylon. For,
return to as it is written in Ezekiel, ' Egypt was the confidence 'of the house of Israel.3'
But it is to be understood, as Codoman and others have observed, that Artaxerxes, to whom the counsellors and governors of Phoenicia complained against the Jews, did not precede, but succeed Darius Hystaspes, as in the sixth and seventh chapters of Esdras it is made plain; and also that those governors, (whose epistle sheweth as much,) did not withstand the building of the temple, but the fortifying and
the said epistle, and by the king's answer, it is evident.
Also in the sixth of Ezra, the fourteenth verse, the kings are named in order as they governed, and Artaxerxes written after Darius: as,—' And they built 'and finished it, (to wit the temple,) by the appoint'ment of the God of Israel, and by the command4 ment of Cyrus and Darius, and Artahshaste, kings 'of Persia.' Lastly, in the seventh of Ezra it is written, ' Now after these things, in the reign of Artah* shaste king of Persia:' which was as much as to say, after the finishing of the temple in Darius's time. And therefore Artaxerxes in the second of Esdras is there named by anticipation, not in his own time and place.
And thus much concerning the re-building of the city and temple of Jerusalem. Which action, though prospered by the hand of God, was very slowly pursued by the men whom it most concerned, but first set on foot by Cyrus. The other ordinances of Cyrus, with his form and manner of government, are to be found in Xenophon. At his death, he bequeathed the empire unto his eldest son Cambyses, ap
Eointing Smerdis or Tanaoxares his younger son to e Satrapa, or lieutenant of Media, Armenia, and Cadusiat"; and then died, after he had reigned, (saith
enclosing of the
by the reasons given in
Herodotus,) thirty-one years, or, (according to Justin,) but thirty.
Sect. VIII. ■
Of Cyrus's issue; and whether Atossa were his daughter, or, (as some think,) were the same with queen Esther.
Cyrus had issue two sons, Cambyses and Smerdis, with three daughters, Atossa, Meroe, and Artystona. Ctesias addeth to these, Amytes. Atossa and Meroe, their brother Cambyses married; Artystona, Darius Hystaspes obtained; so did he Atossa, Cambyses being dead; who, (as some writers have supposed,) inflamed both her husbands, Darius and Xerxes after him, to invade Greece, to be avenged of the whole nation for the cruel intent that Aman, (whom the old translation calleth a Macedonian,) had against the Jews; though the opinion of Josephusbe more probable, who finds Aman to be an Amalekite. But it is hard to be understood how Atossa, the daughter of Cyrus, should have been Esther, whose history seems rather to appertain to the time of Artaxerxes Longimanus, than of Darius the son of Hystaspes or of Xerxes. The desire of Atossa to have Greece brought under the yoke of Persia, was partly grounded upon the honour which thereby she thought her husband might obtain; partly upon a feminine humour of getting many brave dames, Corinthians, Athenians, and others of that nation, to be her bond-women. Wherefore I cannot give assent to the opinion of Codoman, who, upon the near sound of the two names, Atossa and Hadassa, (by the latter of which Esther was also called,) makes them to have been one person. For though it be true that Esther, concerning her parentage, a while might be taken for a great lady: yet Codoman's inference is
Vol. III. p p
nothing probable, that she should therefore, and for the great affection which the king bare unto her, be thought the daughter of Cyrus. Certain it is, that Esther did at length discover her kindred and nation; whereby, if histories could be kept free from this error, yet the people, and especially the nobility, must needs have understood the truth; who nevertheless did so well know the parentage of Atossa, that for her sake, as being daughter of Cyrus, her son Xerxes was preferred to the kingdom before his elder brother, against whom also he could have pretended a very weak claim. But of these things more hereafter in fitter place.
END OF VOLUME THIRD.
John Moir, Printer. u