ever remaineth in any place where he sojourneth, let the men of his place help him with silver, and with gold'. In response to the call, 42,000 Jews under Zerubbabel and Jeshua the High Priest returned from captivity. In the reign of Darius a second batch under Haggai, the prophet, returned in 519, when the second Temple was built; a third of some 1,500, in the reign of Artaxerxes in 458, under Ezra; and a fourth in 445, under Nehemiah. A continuation of Nehemiah's narrative can be traced in the Elephantine papyri down to 419 and perhaps later. These remarkable documents show the relations between the Jews who had returned to Zion and those of the Diaspora, who had remained in the lands of their birth and their civil allegiance.
The colonists, who had rebuilt the Temple and deemed it necessary to fortify Jerusalem, found themselves in a minority. They had to deal with the local intrigues of the Samaritan opposition; and the difficulties they had to contend with are set forth by Haggai and Zechariah. who comforted the settlers when they were discouraged. Nehemiah was a Persian official, and his interest had been aroused by the sad reports concerning the Jews who had returned to Jerusalem, how they were 'in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down'. He persuaded Artaxerxes to send him 'unto Judah, unto the city of my fathers' sepulchres, that I may build it'. He succeeded in rebuilding Jerusalem, despite the intrigues and even the armed force of the local Persian officials, and especially of the Samaritans. Like Ezra, his predecessor, he had to complain of the spiritual indifference of his co-religionists; and he instituted reforms. The Samaritan opposition was routed, and, notwithstanding the persistence of a certain amount of intermarriage, never again recovered its influence in Jerusalem, though the erection of a temple at Elephantine seems to point to some sort of compromise between Jew and Samaritan in Egypt.
- Ezra i. 3–4.
- Nehemiah i. 3.
- Ibid. ii. 5.
- Ibid. xiii. 3.