Page:A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi and Jonah.djvu/48

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HISTORICAL BACKGROUND
 

ping at the renovated sanctuary, and finally made offerings to all the other gods that had shrines at Sais.[1] The story told by Herodotus is very different. He pictures Cambyses as torturing Psammeticus by cruelty to his children, abusing the mummy of the dethroned king's father, fatally wounding the bull in which Apis had recently manifested himself and making sport of the images in the temple of Ptah, the tutelar divinity of Memphis.[2] The truth seems to be that at first he was disposed to respect the customs and prejudices of the conquered people, but that, after his return from his disastrous expedition against Ethiopia, he treated them and their gods as if they were responsible for its failure. Then, according to Uzahor, there happened "a very great calamity" affecting "the whole land," during which he (Uzahor) "protected the feeble against the mighty." He adds,—and this statement shows that the religious interests of the country had thereby suffered seriously,—that, on the accession of Darius, he was commissioned "to restore the names of the gods, their temples, their endowments and the arrangement of their feasts forever."[3]

The reign of Cambyses was not so unfortunate for the Jews. He seems to have continued toward them the policy adopted by his father, a policy which was prudent as well as liberal, in view of his designs against Egypt. When he had conquered that country he gave proof of his favour by sparing their temple at Elephantine.[4] If, however, they were cherishing dreams of independence suggested by the earlier prophets, his reputation for jealousy and cruelty must have chilled their ardour and deterred them from activities that could be interpreted to their disadvantage. Moreover, being on the route by which the Persian army entered Egypt, and by which it had to be re-enforced, they must more than once have been obliged to meet requisitions that sorely taxed their slender resources. It is not surprising, therefore, that there is no evidence, in the Scriptures or elsewhere, that, during the reign of

  1. Petrie, HE., iii, 360 ff.
  2. Herodotus, iii, 14 ff., 27 ff., 37.
  3. Cf. Petrie, HE., iii, 362. Jedoniah, in his letter to Bagoses, says that "the temples of the gods of Egypt were all overthrown" by Cambyses. Report of Smithsonian Institution 1907, 603 ff.; Revue Biblique, 1908, 325 ff.
  4. Report of the Smithsonian Institution, 1907, 603 ff.; Revue Biblique, 1908, 325 ff.