Page:A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi and Jonah.djvu/53

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no sooner begun work than Tattenai, the governor of the satrapy west of the Euphrates, and certain others, appeared and inquired who had given them authority to rebuild the sanctuary.[1] They replied that Cyrus had done so in the first year of his reign, and that Sheshbazzar had actually laid the foundations of the building at that time. Cf. Ezr. 513. 16. Thereupon the governor reported to the king, asking that an examination be made to ascertain whether such a decree had ever been issued. Cf. Ezr. 517. The result was that a record to this effect was found at Ecbatana, and the governor was instructed not to interfere with the Jews in their work, but rather to assist them from the revenues of his district, that they might "offer sacrifices of sweet savour to the God of heaven, and pray for the life of the king and his sons." Cf. Ezr. 61 ff..

The authenticity of this account has been disputed by Wellhausen, but the tendency, even among the more radical authorities, is to admit that, whether the Chronicler, to whom it owes its present form, composed (Schrader), compiled (Kosters) or only edited (Kuenen) it, it contains more or less material of a genuinely historical character. This opinion is favoured by the following considerations:

1. The general impression made by the story, as compared, for example, with 11 f., 47 ff. or 616 ff., is that it is temperate and plausible.

2. The consideration shown the Jews, first by the governor, and then by the king, is in harmony with the demands of the historical situation. The whole East had revolted against Darius; but as yet there had been no trouble in the western part of the empire, and it was very desirable that this state of things should continue. That the king realised this is clear from his treatment of the case of Oroetes, the satrap of Lydia, who was not removed, although he was known to be secretly disloyal, until the eastern provinces had been reduced to submission.[2] Probably Tattenai had re-

  1. Ezr. 53. The text adds a clause rendered (after S T) in RV. "and to finish this wall"; but the vocalisation of אֻשַּׁרְנָא indicates that the Jews read אֻשִׁיָא, foundations, as in v.16. Haupt (SBOT.) regards it as the Aramaic form of asru, an Assyrian word for sanctuary. If RV. is correct, the whole clause is probably an accretion.
  2. Herodotus, iii, 120 ff.