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a great part of the treasure of the temple was also sent thither, with orders that it should be placed in the house of the god Bel.
From this time, about 115 years after the destruction of the kingdom of Israel, is to be dated the commencement of the Babylonian captivity. Eight years after, the son and successor of Jehoiachim, was carried captive into Chaldea, together with ten thousand of his subjects. And finally, in the eleventh year of the reign of Zedekiah, about 580 years before Christ, and 133 years after the commencement of the captivity of the ten tribes, Jerusalem was taken by Nebuchadnezzar, at the end of a siege of eighteen months, and, together with the temple, was burnt to the ground, and utterly destroyed. Zedekiah was sent to Riblah, into the presence of Nebuchadnezzar, who, after having commanded his eyes to be put out, sent him in fetters to Babylon. Thus were fulfilled two seemingly discordant predictions of Jeremiah and Ezekiel; the former of which prophets had declared concerning Zedekiah, that as a captive he should see the king of Babylon face to face, and be carried to that city; the latter, that his eyes should never behold it.
The principal part of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin was also led captive into Chaldea.
Over the people of the poorer class which were left in the land, and were joined by fugitives from contiguous districts, Gedaliah was appointed governor. He being shortly after killed by a conspiracy, the remnant of the Jews, dreading the vengeance of the Chaldeans, resolved to fly into Egypt. This measure Jeremiah was directed by the Almighty to forbid, and was commissioued also to inform the Jews, that, if they persisted in their design, they should be overtaken in the country where they sought for refuge, by their dreaded enemy Nebuchadnezzar, who, according to the sublime language of scripture, "should array himself with the land of Egypt, as a shepherd putteth on his garment." Jer. xliii. 12.
But the people would not be restrained. Carrying Jeremiah with them, they hastened into Egypt; which country, according to the Divine - declaration, was subdued about sixteen years afterwards, by the king of Babylon. Thus was Judea emptied of its inhabitants. So extreme was the predicted desolation to be, that four years after the burning of Jerusalem, Nebuzaradan, the captain of Nebuchadnezzar's guard, swept away to Babylon the scanty reliques of the people, who had collected together in their native land, amounting to seven hundred and forty-five persons.
When the kingdom of Judah had been 70 years in captivity, and the period of their affliction was completed, Cyrus, under whom were united the kingdoms of Persia, Media, and Babylon, issued a decree, permitting all the Jews to return to their own land, and to rebuild B. C. the temple at Jerusalem. This decree had been expressly foretold by the prophet Isaiah, who called upon Cyrus by name, above 100 years before his birth, as the deliverer of God's chosen people from their captivity.
Accordingly, 536 years before the Christian era, "that the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, might be accomplished, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus, king of Persia; that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying: Thus saith Cyrus, king of Persia ; all the kingdoms of the earth hath the Lord God of heaven given me; and he hath charged me to build a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people? The Lord his God be with him, and let him go up." Cyrus at the same time commanded that assistance should be given to the poorer Jews, in order to enable them to undertake the journey; and he
delivered up the vessels of gold and silver,
brought away from the temple of God to Baby
lon, that they might be placed in the new temple which was now to be erected.
In consequence of this encouragement, great numbers belonging to the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, having been joined also by many individuals of the ten tribes, and amounting altogether to nearly 50,000, servants and proselytes included, returned to Jerusalem, under the conduct of Zerubbabel, otherwise called Sheshbazzar, a chief descended from David, and from Joshua the high priest.
In the beginning of the following year, they proceeded to build the temple on its old foundation. In this work the Samaritans desired to join. These were the posterity of the Cutheans, and other colonists, who had been placed, about 200 years before that time, by the king of Assyria, in the land of Israel, and had united with the service of Jehovah the worship of their peculiar idols. The Jews rejected the proposal, and the Samaritans, eager for revenge, exerted themselves to impede the rebuilding of the city, partly by force of arms, and partly by misrepresentation addressed to the court of Persia. The work by these means was interrupted; but a favourable decree having been at length obtained from Darius, it was resumed and completed; and the new temple was solemnly dedicated
twenty years after the Jews had begun to rebuild it.
The Jews had been strongly excited to zeal and perseverance in the undertaking, by the prophets Haggai and Zechariah. And when the aged Jews, some of whom had seen the former temple, wept at the recollection of its superior magnificence, deploring also the irrecoverable loss of the ark, the rod of Aaron, the two tables of stone, the pot of manna, which had been preserved by Divine appointment from the days of Joshua, and the rest of its miraculous distinctions; Haggai was commisioned to assure them, that the glory of this latter house should be greater than the glory of the former; a prediction fulfilled when the latter house was glorified by the presence of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
About fifty years afterwards, Ezra, invested with ample powers by Artaxerxes, arrived from Babylon, bringing with him some additional vessels belonging to the temple, and accompanied by about 1500 Jews. He employed himself with great diligence in reforming abuses and transgressions prevalent among the people. Thirteen years after his arrival, he was joined by Nehemiah, appointed governor of Judea by Artaxerxes, with authority to repair the ruined walls