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    September 18, 1902

    “Restoration from Babylon. The Samaritans Compelled to Help” The Present Truth 18, 38, pp. 598, 599.

    ATJ

    BY the presence and the messages of the prophets Haggai and Zechariah, the Jews were encouraged to take up again the work of building the temple of God and the wall of Jerusalem. Faith once more found her place in the hearts of the people; the land and people were blessed with prosperity and good cheer; and the work was begun and carried on with a spirit and an alacrity that meant success certainly and speedily. Yet it was not all peace.PTUK September 18, 1902, page 598.1

    News of this soon reached the Samaritans, and of course set them all astir again. However, among the changes that had come in the imperial government by the death of the false Smerdis and the accession of Darius, was the change of the governor and other officials of Samaria. Rehum the chancellor and Shimshai the secretary had been displaced by Tatnai as governor and Shethar-Boznai as secretary. These men, of themselves, were fair-minded men; but there was about them the same officious Samaritan party as “companions.” These urged on Tatnai and Shethar-Boznai to go up to Jerusalem, and again call a halt upon the work there. They did so, but, being fair-minded men, they did it in a perfectly fair way.PTUK September 18, 1902, page 598.2

    They asked, “Who hath commanded you to build this house, and to make up this wall?” and, “What are the names of the men that make this building?” The Jews told them that the temple had been built there many years before by a great king; that it had been destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar; and that Cyrus had issued a decree for the rebuilding of it, and had sent back from Babylon the gold and silver vessels that belonged in the house. Yet the Samaritans tried to have them stop the work; but they would not stop. Besides, “the eye of their God was upon the elders of the Jews, that they could not cause them to cease, till the matter came to Darius.” Ezra 5:5.PTUK September 18, 1902, page 598.3

    Since they could not stop the work, the Samaritans had Tatnai and Shethar-boznai, write to Darius. They did so, but not as did Rehum and Shimshai in their deceptive mixture of truth and falsehood; they stated the case with fairness; exactly as the Jews had stated it to them. They wrote as follows:—PTUK September 18, 1902, page 598.4

    “Unto Darius the king, all peace. Be it known unto the king, that we went into the province of Judea, to the house of the great God, which is builded with great stones, and timber is laid in the walls, and this work goeth fast on, and prospereth in their hands. Then asked we those elders, and said unto them thus, Who commanded you to build this house, and to make up these walls? We asked their names also, to certify thee, that we might write the names of the men that were the chief of them. And thus they returned us answer, saying:—PTUK September 18, 1902, page 598.5

    “We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth, and build the house that was builded these many years ago, which a great king of Israel builded and set up. But after that our fathers had provoked the God of heaven unto wrath, he gave them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, the Chaldean, who destroyed this house, and carried the people away into Babylon. But in the first year of Cyrus the king of Babylon the same king Cyrus made a decree to build this house of God. And the vessels also of gold and silver of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took out of the temple that was in Jerusalem, and brought them into the temple of Babylon, those did Cyrus the king take out of the temple of Babylon, and they were delivered unto one, whose name was Sheshbazzar, whom he had made governor; and said unto him, Take these vessels, go, carry them into the temple that is in Jerusalem, and let the house of God be builded in his place. Then came the same Sheshbazzar, and laid the foundation of the house of God which is in Jerusalem; and since that time even until now hath it been in building, and yet it is not finished.PTUK September 18, 1902, page 598.6

    “Now therefore, if it seem good to the king, let there be search made in the king’s treasure house, which is there at Babylon, whether it be so, that a decree was made of Cyrus the king to build this house of God at Jerusalem, and let the king send his pleasure to us concerning this matter.”PTUK September 18, 1902, page 598.7

    When this letter reached Darius, he went about the matter in the thoroughly business-like way that characterised his whole reign and administration; he “made a decree” that search should be made for the records mentioned. First “search was made in the house of the books, where the treasures were laid up in Babylon.” It was not found there, nor anywhere in Babylon. The search was continued in the other capitals; “and there was found at Ecbatana, in the palace that is in the province of the Medes, a roll, and therein was a record thus written:—PTUK September 18, 1902, page 598.8

    “In the first year of Cyrus the king the same Cyrus the king made a decree concerning the house of God at Jerusalem, Let the house be builded, the place where they offered sacrifices, and let the foundations thereof be strongly laid; the height thereof threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof threescore cubits; with three rows of great stones, and a row of new timber: and let the expenses be given out of the king’s house; and also let the golden and silver vessels of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took forth out of the temple which is at Jerusalem, and brought unto Babylon, be restored, and brought again unto the temple which is at Jerusalem, every one to his place, and place them in the house of God.”PTUK September 18, 1902, page 598.9

    This being found, Darius wrote to Tatnai and Shethar-boznai and the Samaritans as follows:—PTUK September 18, 1902, page 598.10

    “Now therefore, Tatnai, governor beyond the river, Shetharboznai, and your companions the Apharsachites, which are beyond the river, be ye far from thence: let the work of this house of God alone; let the governor of the Jews and the elders of the Jews build this house of God in his place.PTUK September 18, 1902, page 598.11

    “Moreover I make a decree what ye shall do to the elders of these Jews for the building of this house of God; that of the king’s goods, even of the tribute beyond the river, forthwith expenses be given unto these men, that they be not hindered. And that which they have need of, both young bullocks, and rams, and lambs, for the burnt offerings of the God of heaven, wheat, salt, wine, and oil, according to the appointment of the priests which are at Jerusalem, let it be given them day by day without fail; that they may offer sacrifices of sweet savours unto the God of heaven, and pray for the life of the king, and of his sons.PTUK September 18, 1902, page 598.12

    “Also I have made a decree, that whosoever shall alter this word, let timber be pulled down from his house, and being set up, let him be hanged thereon; and let his house be made a dunghill for this. And the God that hath caused his name to dwell there destroy all kings and people, that shall put to their hand to alter and to destroy this house of God which is at Jerusalem.PTUK September 18, 1902, page 598.13

    “I Darius have made a decree; let it be done with speed.” Ezra 6:1-12.PTUK September 18, 1902, page 598.14

    That settled the question for ever. Therefore Tatnai, and Shethar-boznai, and their companions, “according to that which Darius the king had sent, so they did speedily. And the elders of the Jews builded, and they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. And they builded, and finished it, according to the commandment of the God of Israel, and according to the commandment of Cyrus and Darius.... And this house was finished on the third day of the month Adar [the twelfth month], which was in the sixth year of the reign of Darius the king”—517 B.C. Ezra 6:13-15.PTUK September 18, 1902, page 598.15

    And as soon as the house was finished, it was dedicated; and the children of Israel “kept the dedication of the house of God with joy,” and offered sacrifices “according to the number of the tribes of Israel.” And “they kept the Passover upon the fourteenth day of the first month;” “and kept the feast of unleavened bread seven days with joy; for the Lord had made them joyful, and turned the heart of the king of Assyria unto them, to strengthen their hands in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel.” Ezra 6:16-22.PTUK September 18, 1902, page 598.16

    The temple and worship of God was restored. Against all opposition the cause of God had triumphed so far. However, the battle was not yet over; the wall was not yet built; and this was yet to be built “even in troublous times.”PTUK September 18, 1902, page 599.1

    A. T. JONES.

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