Page:A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi and Jonah.djvu/44

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building, and hired counsellors against them, to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus, king of Persia, even to the reign of Darius, king of Persia." The animus of this story is apparent. It breathes the hatred and contempt with which the Jews regarded their northern neighbours. Its unreality is equally evident. The request put into the mouth of these "adversaries" contradicts, not only the term applied to them, but all that is known with reference to their attitude toward the Jews and their sanctuary.[1] The passage, therefore, does not add to the trustworthiness of the preceding account of the foundation of the temple.

The general statement of Ezr. 45 might have sufficed to bridge the interval between the date there mentioned and that at which, according to the Chronicler, work on the temple was resumed, namely, the second year of the reign of Darius. The author, however, was not content to leave his readers without details. One of the incidents he cites is barely mentioned, the other is given in extenso. A certain Rehum and others, of Samaria, it seems, made a formal complaint against the Jews, setting forth that it would be dangerous to allow them to proceed with the operations in which they were engaged. The king, after an investigation, issued the desired decree, whereupon Rehum and his companions "went in haste to Jerusalem unto the Jews, and made them cease by force and power. Then," says the writer, "ceased the work of the house of God which is at Jerusalem; and it ceased until the second year of Darius, king of Persia." Cf. Ezr. 423 f.. The natural inference from the last clause is that both incidents were obstacles to the completion of the sanctuary, and that both occurred before the reign of Darius. This, however, is not the case; for it is clear from vv.13 ff. that it was the rebuilding of the city and its wall against which the Samaritans protested, and it is expressly stated that the first complaint was made in the reign of Xerxes, the son of Darius, and the second in that of Artaxerxes,

  1. Cf. Meyer, GA., iii, 101 f. There is a similar case in Ne. 220, where the Chronicler would lead one to infer that the Samaritans had offercd to assist Nehemiah in his work; whereas, from documents recently discovered, it is clear that, so far from recognising the pretensions of the Jerusalemites, they favoured local sanctuaries, and recommended the restoration of the one at Elephantine. Cf. Sachau, Report of the Smithsonian Institution for 1907, 603 ff.; Lagrange in Revue Biblique, 1908, 325 ff.