Page:A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi and Jonah.djvu/40

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turned to their country under the terms of the decree attributed to Cyrus, a critical examination renders this view untenable. The reasons for a dififerent opinion are: (a) that in the title (Ezr. 21) the persons enumerated are described as "children of the province" who "had returned to Jerusalem and Judah," that is, were settled in the country when the census was made; (b) that the same document, in a somewhat earlier form, is found in Ne. 7, where (v.5) it is called "a book of genealogy," that is, a genealogical register; (c) that the phrase, "of them that came up at the first," here found, is an interpolation,[1] and the list of leaders in both Ezr. 2 and Ne. 7 also evidently an afterthought;[2] (d) and that, if this list were retained, it could be used as proof of a great return in the first year of Cyrus only on the mistaken supposition that Sheshbazzar and Zerubbabel are different names for the same person.[3] These considerations oblige one to confess that the document in question was not intended for its present connection, and that therefore it cannot be used to prove that any great number of Jews, by permission of Cyrus, returned to their country soon after the capture of Babylon.[4]

5. It appears from Zc. 610 that the Jews of Babylonia were free to return to Jerusalem when it was written, but neither this prophet nor Haggai betrays any knowledge of so great a movement as that described in the first two chapters of Ezra. In fact, Zc. 210/6 ff., where Zion is exhorted to "flee" from Babylon, indicates that no such movement had taken place when this passage was written. Cf. also Zc. 615 87 f..

These are the most serious objections to the Chronicler's account of the return of the Jews under Cyrus. They do not lie

  1. It cannot be construed with the preceding context. Cf. Guthe. SBOT.
  2. Cf. Guthe, SBOT.
  3. This view was formerly common, and there are some who still hold it. So Ryle, on Ezr. 18; van Hoonacker, PP., 543. The following points, however, seem conclusive against it: (1) The Chronicler, who alone has the name Sheshbazzar, gives his reader no hint that it is intended to designate the same person as Zerubbabel. (2) In Ezr. 516 he represents the leaders of the Jews as using the name in such a way that it cannot fairly be understood as a designation for one of their own number. (3) If, as Meyer (EJ., 77) and others claim, the Shenazzar of 1 Ch. 318 is Sheshbazzar, the author must be reckoned a positive witness against the identity of the person so called with Zerubbabel. Cf. DB., art. Sheshbazzar.
  4. In 1 Esd. 5 the same document appears as a part of an account of a return with Zerubbabel at the beginning of the reign of Darius.