Page:A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi and Jonah.djvu/46

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14
HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

tine. Their condition was not an enviable one. Of this one can assure one's self without the help of the Chronicler. In the first place, even if the great altar had been rebuilt, it cannot but have emphasised the desolation by which it was surrounded. Moreover, those who lived at Jerusalem were constantly reminded by the prostrate walls of the present weakness as well as the former strength of their city. Finally, some of the returned exiles were suffering actual want; for, according to Hg. 216 f., when the temple was founded, it had been a long time since there was a normal harvest. Zechariah (810) bears similar testimony, referring also to the constant annoyance his people had suffered from hostile neighbours. The discouragement that these hard conditions would naturally engender had doubtless found frequent expression. Perhaps, as some scholars incline to believe,[1] Is. 63 f. are among the literary products of the period. At any rate, the sufferers could hardly have put their complaint into more fitting or forceful language. The following lines from ch. 64 are especially appropriate:

8/9. "Be not, Yahweh, very wroth,
nor remember iniquity forever:
"Look, see, I pray thee,
we are all thy people.
9/10. "Thy holy cities have become a desert;
Zion hath become a desert,
Jerusalem a waste.
10/11. "Our holy and beautiful house,
where our fathers praised thee,
hath been burned with fire,
"And all that was precious to us
hath become a ruin.
11/12. "And wilt thou still restrain thyself, Yahweh?
be quiet? nay, greatly afflict us?[2]
 

§ 2. CAMBYSES.

The successor of Cyrus on the throne of Persia was Cambyses. His chief exploit was the conquest of Egypt. It is probable that

  1. Bleek, Einl., 346.
  2. Bacthgen, with more or less confidence, refers to this period the following Psalms: 16, 41, 56, 57, 59, 64, 79, 85, 120, 123, 124, 125, 127, 131 and 137.