Page:A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi and Jonah.djvu/54

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ceived instructions to keep a close watch upon his district, but not to create unnecessary friction. When the case came before Darius, he would naturally make it a point to honour a decree of his great predecessor, knowing that, once firmly seated upon his throne, he could easily check any abuse of his liberality by the Jews of Jerusalem.

3. The mention of Sheshbazzar (516) is significant. It shows that the Chronicler, when he introduced it, was borrowing from an older source, a source from which, in ch. 3, he found reason for differing, and in which, on this account, the reader should have the greater confidence.

4. When the Jews began work on the temple, Media was in rebellion; but, by the time the report of Tattenai reached Darius, he had regained control of the province, including Ecbatana, where the edict of Cyrus was finally discovered. Cf. Ezr. 62.

5. There are certain features of the rescript in reply to Tattenai (Ezr. 66 ff.) that speak for its genuineness. Thus, the request for an interest in the prayers of the worshippers of Yahweh (v.10) reminds one of Cyrus's appeal to the gods that he had restored to their shrines to intercede for him and Cambyses with Bel and Nebo;[1] while the warning against tampering with the decree (v.11) has a parallel in the conclusion of the Behistun inscription where Darius himself says:

"If, seeing this tablet and these figures, thou shalt injure them, and shalt not preserve them as long as thy seed endures, then may Ormazd be thy enemy, and mayest thou be childless, and that which thou mayest do may Ormazd curse for thee."

The curse in v.12, however, is justly suspected of being an interpolation.[2]

It must have taken some time, several months, for Tattenai to get his instructions. Meanwhile the Jews proceeded with their work. At first they wrought with feverish, fanatical energy. On the twenty-fourth of the ninth month (December, 520 B.C.), the enthusiasm seems to have reached its height. This is the date on which Haggai prophesied the destruction of "the strength of the kingdoms of the nations." Cf. 322. Later the work began

  1. KB. iii, e, 126 f.
  2. Meyer, EJ., 51.