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side the river, and Shetharboznal, and his companions the Apharsachites, which were on this side of the river sent unto Darius the king.

They sent a letter unto him, wherein was written thus; 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, 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 ami 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:'

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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.

NW 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.

Then Darius the king made a decree, and search was made in the house of the rolls, where the treasures were laid up in Babylon.

And there was found at Achmetha, in the palace that is in the province of the Medes, a roll, and therein was a record thus written,

In the first year of Cyrus the king, the same Cyrus the king made a decree concerning the house ef 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 »ows of great stones, and a row of new timber: and let the expences 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.

Now therefore, Tatnai governor beyond the river, 4. ShetharShethar-boznai, 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 Goo in his place.

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 expences 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.

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. I Darius have made a decree: let it be done with speed.

Then Tatnai, governor, on this side the river, Shethar-boznai, and their companions, according to that which Darius the king had sent, so they did speedily.

ANNOTATIONS And REFLECTIONS.

Tatnai was governor of Palestine under the king of Persia.

Darius seems to have had a very exalted idea of the Lord God. The publishing of this decree completed the restoration of the Jewish state, from the destruction of which, by the burning of the city and temple by Nebuchadnezzar, was exactly seventy years, as the prophet Jeremiah had foretold. The Jews were now in a much better state than they had lately been in Babylon; but their condition was greatly inferior to the former glory of the people of Israel. They had now no king, yet the sceptre remained in the tribe of Judab, for Zerubbabel their governor was lineally descended from David; and they had still prophets to direct and comfort them.

SECTION LXVIII.

THE PEOPLE ENQUIRE OF THE LORD CONCERNING THEIK FASTING AND ARE REPROVED BY ZECHARIAH.

From Zechariah, Chap. vii. And it came to pass in the fourth year of king Darius, that the word of the Lord came unto Zechariah in the fourth day of the ninth month, even in Chisleu;

When they had sent unto the house of God Sherezev and Ilegem-raelech and their men, to pray before the Lord; and to speak unto the priests which were in the house of the Lord of hosts, and to the prophets, saying,

Should I weep in the fifth month, separating myself, as I have done these many years? Then came the word of the Lord of hosts unto Zechariah, saying,

Speak unto all the people of the land, and to the priests, saying, When ye fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh month, even those seventy years, did ye at all fast unto me, even to me i

And when ye did eat, and when ye did drink, did ye not eat for yourselves, and drink for yourselves?

Should

Should ye not hear the words which the Lord hath cried by the former prophets, when Jerusalem was inhabited and in prosperity, and the cities thereof round about her, when men inhabited the south and the plain?

And the word of the Lord came unto Zechariah, saying,

Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, Execute true judgment, and shew mercy and compassion every man to his brother.

And oppress not the widow, nor the fatherless, the stranger, nor the poor; and let none of you imagine evil against his brother in your heart.

But they refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not hear.

Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law and the words which the Lord of hosts hath sent in his spirit by the former prophets; therefore came a great wrath from the Lord of hosts.

Therefore it is come to pass, that as he cried and they would not hear, so they cried and I would not hear, saith the Lord of hosts.

But I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations whom they knew not. Thus the land was desolate after them, that no man passed through nor returned: for they laid the pleasant land desolate. ANNOTATIONS And REFLECTIONS.

The Jews who remained in Babylon, did not know whether they should still observe the solemn fasts which had been appointed on account of the desl ruction of Jerusalem, or not. Zechariah was commanded to take this opportunity of enforcing the observance of moral duties, that they might not involve themselves in such calamities as had befallen their fathers.

SECTION

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