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the frail booths, redolent of the sweet freshness of hill and valley, rose all over Jerusalem, on the roofs and in the yards of houses, in the vast Courts of the Temple, and before the gates of the city. The whole people kept the festival with rejoicings, while on each of the seven days portions of the Law were publicly read; a solemn assembly on the eighth day concluded the celebration of the Feast.
The twenty-fourth day of the same month was observed by the people as a day of fasting and penitence; reading of the Law alternated with the confession of sins; then the Levites prayed aloud for the community, extolling the mercy and goodness of God and imploring His forgive ness; they reviewed the long and eventful history of the Israelites from the earliest times up to their own days, which they described in no cheerful colours: 'Behold we are servants at present; and as to the land that Thou gavest to our fathers to eat the fruit thereof and the good thereof, behold we are servants in it; and it yields much wealth to the kings whom Thou hast set over us because of our sins; and they have dominion over our bodies, and over our cattle, at their pleasure, and we are in great distress.' The proceedings of that memorable day were brought to a close by a solemn covenant concluded by the people with God and ratified by an oath, that they would observe all the Divine laws, and especially that they would shun intermarriages with heathen nations, avoid buying and selling on the Sabbath day and all festivals, and duly keep the seventh or Sabbath year as a year of release. It was ordained, moreover, that they should pay a regular tax to defray the expense of the public worship throughout the year ; that they should bring the firstfruits of the earth and of the trees to the Temple, and give the tithes of all produce of the soil to the Levites, who, in their turn, were to give the tenth part of their income to the priests;
and that, with regard to the firstborn of men and animals, they should act according to the injunctions of the Law.
Now, in order to distribute the population as equitably as possible over the whole land, it was decided that the chiefs of the people should reside in Jerusalem, and besides them, one family out of ten should be selected by lot; while the remainder were to take
their abode in other parts of the country. This proposal, willingly adopted, was carried out with all possible fairness. Particular care was taken to retain in Jerusalem a sufficient number of priests and Levites for the service of the Temple, and to assign dwellings to the rest in the various districts of Judea. But all holy ministers were soon afterwards assembled in Jerusalem to assist at the dedication of the newly built walls, which was celebrated with imposing solemnity and great rejoicing.
At the end of twelve years (432), Nehemiah, true to his promise, returned to the Persian court. Left without his watchful supervision, the Jews soon relapsed into many of their old abuses, the more so as Ezra seems either to have accompanied him to Susa, or to have died at Jerusalem before his departure. They admitted Ammonites and Moabites into their community. They intermarried again with heathen nations, and in many cases their children were not taught to speak Hebrew, but only the language of their pagan neighbours. Manasseh, the Highpriest Eliashib's grandson, had married a daughter of Sanballat, a chief of the Samaritans; and Tobiah, another powerful enemy of the Jews, had allied himself by marriage with a distinguished Jewish family, and had even a chamber prepared for him in the very Court of the Temple. The Levites and the singers did not receive their appointed portions, and therefore went to the fields instead of attending to their sacred offices. It seems that wise patriots were not wanting who saw and appreciated the
danger of all these transgressions. The last of the prophets, Malachi, raised his voice in tones of warning and reproof, of comfort and encouragement, but with little effect.1
When Nehemiah, some years after his return to Susa, was informed of the confusion that prevailed in Judea, he was deeply grieved, and begged of his sovereign to allow him to visit Jerusalem once more (about 424). He obtained the desired permission, and as soon as he arrived in the holy city he proceeded to remedy the evils that had so rapidly spread. He separated the Jews from all strangers, and forced them to dismiss their foreign wives; he acted in this matter with great decision, if not with violence; for, to quote his own words, 'I contended with them, and cursed them, and smote certain of them, and plucked off their hair, and made them swear by God, saying, You shall not give your daughters to their sons, nor take their daughters to your sons or for yourselves. He banished Manasseh, who had so recklessly defiled the priesthood by his Samaritan marriage; and he expelled Tobiah from the Court of the Temple. He took measures that the Levites should again receive the tithes regularly and faithfully. But he did more. He eagerly and searchingly investigated the customs and daily life of the people. He found ' in Judah some treading wine-presses on the Sabbath, and bringing in sheaves and lading asses, and also carrying wine, grapes, and figs, and all manner of burdens. • There dwelt men of Tyre also in Jerusalem who brought fish and all manner of ware, and sold on the Sabbath to the children of Judah and in Jerusalem.' He severely reproved the chiefs of the people, saying, “What evil thing is this that you do, and profane the Sabbath day? Did not your fathers act thus, and did not our God bring all
See the chapter on Malachi in vol. ii.
this evil upon us and upon this city? Yet you call down more wrath upon Israel by profaning the Sabbath.'
He commanded that the gates of Jerusalem should be closed on the eve of the day of rest, and should remain so till the following night. This measure he carried out with such energy and perseverance that he at last gained the desired object. Indeed Nehemiah's influence upon the religious and political consolidation of the Jewish community cannot be too highly valued; he worthily continued what Ezra had begun; he was equal to his great predecessor in his love for his people, in his fervour for the purity of their faith, and in his untiring activity; but he surpassed him in promptitude and decision, and above all in practical genius and administrative ability. To win our admiration, therefore, he does not require the legendary embellishments which tradition has wreathed round his name. He is said to have re-discovered and made available the sacred fire which the priests, in the time of Nebuchadnezzar, had hidden in a cavern, and which was thenceforth used for the altar; and he is reported to have brought together many books, and collected the works and letters of the kings and prophets, especially those relating to the donations made for the Temple.'
It is sufficient to know that he left us, in the Biblical Book which bears his name, a clear and faithful account of his own share in the re-organisation of the Jewish commonwealth.
Here the historical accounts of the Hebrew Canon close. From the time of Nehemiah to the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, our principal source is the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, who is not always trustworthy, and must
i See 2 Macc. I. 18 899.; II. 13.
be followed with caution. As the object of the present work is not a History of the Jews, but a History of the Bible, we shall confine ourselves to a rapid sketch of the destinies of the Jews from the end of the fifth century, but shall narrate more fully the memorable Maccabean wars, after which we shall conclude with a brief survey of events down to the final overthrow of Jerusalem and the dispersion of the Jews.
157. POLITICAL CONDITION AND LITERATURE.
Sanballat, to avenge the affront offered by Nehemiah to his son-in-law Manasseh (p. 566), built on Mount Gerizim a Temple similar to that of Jerusalem, introduced the Mosaic institutions in Samaria, and appointed Manasseh the first High-priest (414)."
This was an event of the utmost importance ; it perpetuated the political division between the Jews and Samaritans, and the two Temples, though devoted to the same faith, stood opposed to each other in hostile rivalry.
In the year 400, the Jewish High-priest Jojada died, and was succeeded by his son Johanan. But a younger and ambitious son, Joshua, aspired to the eminent dignity, and he was supported in his pretensions by the Persian governor Bagoses. In the Temple, he once insulted and provoked his elder brother, who, in a moment of fierce rage, killed him in the holy place. To chastise the Jews, Bagoses polluted their Temple by forcing his way into it, and imposed upon them a heavy tribute during seven years.
The next High-priests were Johanan's son and grandson, Jonathan and Jaddua, the latter a contemporary of Alexander the Great (330). During this time, the Jews
· Josephus (Antiq. XI. viii. 2.) places this fact in the time of Alexander the Great (332).