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fourth is like the Son of God." Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither.” Then they came forth, and there was not a hair of their head singed, neither were their garments changed, nor had the smell of fire passed upon them. Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “ Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him.' And the king gave to these three men great power in his kingdom. a

56. GREATLY as Daniel had been honoured by Nebuchadnezzar in his youth, he was raised still higher by his successor, Belshazzar ; but he was most exalted by Darius the Mede, who made him president over the third part of the kingdom, and thought to set him over the whole realm. Daniel's prosperity so excited the envy of the princes, that they sought his overthrow. But it was impossible to find any occasion against him, except concerning the law of his God. His enemies, therefore, persuaded the king to make a decree, that whosoever should ask a petition of any god or man, except of the king, should be cast into a den of lions. Daniel, however, continued to pray to his God three times a day, as he was accustomed, with his windows open towards Jerusalem. His enemies assembled, and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God, and they immediately made it known to the king.

DANIEL

a Dan. ii.

The king would gladly have delivered him ; but, on account of the decree which he had made, they succeeded in inducing the king to cast him into the den of lions. “Thy God," said the king

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to him, “whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee.” The king sealed the door of the den with his own signet, and then went to his palace; but he ate nothing, nor could he sleep the whole night. And he arose very early in the morning, and went in haste to the den of lions, and with a lamentable voice he cried out, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions ?” Daniel answered, “ My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions' mouths, that they have not hurt me.” Then was the king exceedingly glad, and commanded that Daniel should be taken up out of the den, and that the men who had accused Daniel should be cast into the den. And they were cast into the den, and before they reached the ground they were torn in pieces by the lions.

Then king Darius made this decree : dominion of my kingdom men shall tremble and fear before the God of Daniel ; for he is the living God, and stedfast for ever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be even unto the end. He delivereth and rescueth, and he worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth, who hath delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.” a

66 In every

57.

THE REBUILDING OF JERUSALEM.

SEVENTY years after the destruction of Jerusalem, Cyrus, a Persian prince, became king over Assyria, Media, and Babylon. In the very first year of his reign he made a proclamation to all the Ísraelites who dwelt in his kingdom, that they might return to their own country, and rebuild their city and temple. “The Lord God of heaven,” says the decree, “hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem. Who is there among you of all his people ? his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, and build the house of the Lord God of Israel." a He also gave back to the Israelites five thousand four hundred golden vessels and utensils which had been brought out of the temple to Babylon. against them to the king, and even attacked them by force ; so that during the building half the men were obliged to stand with their arms in their hands, and even the men who worked at the building carried their swords by their sides while

a Dan, vi, 10-28.

Every one that had not forgotten Jerusalem, now set out to return home. But the greater part of the Jews and Israelites had settled themselves in Assyria and Babylon, and many of them had become rich. And the whole number that returned to the ruins of Jerusalem under the guidance of the high-priest Jeshua, and Zerubbabel, one of the descendants of David, were forty-two thousand heads of families.

Their first business was to build again the altar of God, and to lay the foundation for the Lord's house. The priests stood with trumpets to praise the Lord; and all the people shouted with a great shout when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the new house of the Lord was laid. But many

of the old men, who had seen the former house, wept aloud when they saw the small beginning of the new one; so that the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy of the young men, from the noise of the weeping of the old men.

In the many difficulties which they had to contend with in the work, the prophets Haggai and Zechariah greatly assisted by their advice and encouragement. The Samaritans wished to join with them in building, but the Jews refused their assistance. Then they tried in every possible way to obstruct the building, and made false charges

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a Ezra i. 1-3.

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they held their tools in their hands. This happened under Darius and Artaxerxes, the successors of Cyrus. Darius sent Ezra the scribe to Jerusalem, and he took with him from Babylon all that remained of the vessels of the temple, and there he established the worship of God, the priesthood, and the civil regulations which had existed among their forefathers. After this, Artaxerxes sent Nehemiah, who was his cup-bearer and minister, to Jerusalem, at his own request, to build again its ruined walls; for although they had rebuilt the temple and many of the houses, the city was not yet protected by walls.

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