Page:A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi and Jonah.djvu/35

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INTRODUCTION.

 

THE HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF
THE PROPHECIES OF HAGGAI AND ZECHARIAH.

 
§ I. CYRUS.

The career of Cyrus was watched with the intensest interest from the beginning by all the peoples of western Asia. The boldness and success of his invasion of Media in 550 B.C., and the vigour with which he enforced his sovereignty over this great kingdom, drove Crœsus of Lydia and Nabonidus of Babylonia to an alliance with each other and with Ahmes of Egypt for their common protection. The degree of interest among the Babylonians appears from a chronicle of the period in which there is an account, not only of the Median campaign, but of one, three years later, in another direction, as well as of that which in 539 B.C. resulted in the occupation of Babylon and the submission of the empire of which it was the capital.[1] When the conqueror finally invaded Babylonia the inhabitants took different attitudes toward him. The king and his party, including the crown prince, Belshazzar, of course, did what they could to withstand him. The priests, on the other hand, whom Nabonidus had oflfended by neglecting the worship of Marduk and bringing the gods of other cities in numbers to the capital, favoured him. In fact, they betrayed their country into his hands and welcomed him as its deliverer.[2] There was a similar division among the Jews settled in Babylonia. Some of them, much as they may have heard of the magnanimity of the Persian king, dreaded his approach.

  1. K.B., iii, 2, 128 ff.; Pinches, OT., 411.
  2. K.B., iii, 2, 124 ff., 132 ff.; Pinches, OT., 415 f.