Page:A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi and Jonah.djvu/45

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13
CYRUS

his grandson. In other words, the Chronicler, for the purpose of enriching his narrative, here introduces incidents that had nothing to do with the temple, and happened, if they are authentic, many years after it was completed. They may be of value for the period to which they belong, but they have no place in an introduction to the prophecies of Haggai and Zechariah.[1]

The Chronicler, then, has no reliable information concerning the Jews, or their condition and relations, for the period from the first year after the fall of Babylon to the second of the reign of Darius. The annals of Persia are almost as completely silent with reference to them and their country. Their neighbours generally, as vassals of Babylon, had promptly submitted to Cyrus. Gaza, probably at the instigation of the king of Egypt, hesitated; but it, like the Phœnician cities, finally accepted the new order.[2] A show of force may have been necessary, but soon, so far as Palestine was concerned, the king was free to devote his energies to a war with the Scythians by which, although it cost him his life, he greatly extended and firmly established, in the north and east, the boundaries of his empire.

The death of Cyrus took place in 530 or 529 B.C.[3] By this time a considerable number of Jews must have returned to Pales-

  1. A suggestion with reference to tne text of Ezr. 46–10, however, may not be out of order. It is that, in vv.7 ff., the author is reporting the transmission by a higher Persian official of the substance of a letter received from a subordinate. The interpretation will then be as follows: In v.7 the author says that, in the reign of Artaxerxes, Mithredath (Mithridates), originally the only person named, wrote a despatch to the king, of which there was an Aramaic translation. In v.8 he gives the words with which Mithredath introduces the matter of the letter: "Rehum, the commandant, and Shimshai, the scribe, have written this letter against Jerusalem to Artaxerxes the king, to wit." Then (v.9) follows the list of complainants with which the letter began: "Rehum, the commandant, and Shimshai, the scribe, and the rest of their associates," etc. "And now," says Mithredath (v.11), by way of introduction to the letter proper, "this is the copy of the letter that thy servants, the men beyond the River, have sent to Artaxerxes the king"; and he gives his master the contents of the letter. It appears from v.17 that Rehum was an official resident at Samaria. Mithredath, therefore, was probably the incumbent of the fifth satrapy, which included Palestine. According to Meyer his residence was at Aleppo. Cf. GA., ii, 137.
  2. Nöldeke, APG. 23; Prášek, GMP., i, 232 f., 235.
  3. The latter is the date usually given. So Wiedemann, . 224 f.; Nöldeke, APG., 26. The Ptolemaic Canon, however, places his death in 530, and the contract tablets of the latter part of that year bear the name of his successor. Cf. Prášek, GMP., 200, 246 f. It is probable, however, that, when Cyrus started on his unhappy expedition against the Massagetæ, he placed the regal authority in the hands of Cambyses, who thus began to reign some months before his father's death. Cf. Herodotus, i, 208; vii, 4; Prášek, GMP., i, 242.