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Shethar-boznai, and your companions the Apharsachites, which are beyond the river,, be ye far trow thence: ^
Let the work of this house of God alone: let the governor of the Jews,, and the elders of the Jews, build this house of God in his place.
Moreover I make a decree what ye shall do to the elders of these Jews for the building of this house of God: that of the king's goods, even of the tribute beyond the river, forthwith expences be given unto these men, that they be not hindered, -'
And that which they have need of, both young bullocks, and rams, and lambs, for the burnt offerings of .the God of heaven, wheat, salt, wine, and oil, according to the appointment of the priests which are at Jerusalem,, let it be given them day by day without fail:
That they may offer sacrifices of sweet savours .untothe God of heaven, and pray for the life of the king, and of his sons. . ..
Also I have made a decree, that whosoever shall' alter this word, let timber be pulled down firom his house, arid being set up, let him be hanged thereon: and let his house be made a dunghill for this. • •.
And the God. that hath caused his name to dwell there, destroy all kings and people that shall put to their hand to alter and to destroy this house of God which is at Jerusalem. I Darius have made a decree: let it be done with speed.
Then Tatnai, governor on this side the river, Shethar-boznai, and their companions, according to that which Darius the king had sent, so they did speedily;
ANNOTATIONS And REFLECTIONS.
Tatnai was governor of Palestine under the king of
Fereia» • „ . . J„. t ji,.:. .
. , Darius
Darius seems to have had a very exalted idea of the Lord God. The publishing of this decree completed the restoration of the Jewish state, from the destruction. of which, by the burning of the city and temple by Nebuchadnezzar, was exactly seventy years, as the prophet Jeremiah had foretold. The Jews were now in a much better state than they had lately been in Babylon; but their condition was greatly inferior to the former glory of the people of Israel. They had now no king, yet the sceptre remained in the tribe of Judah, for Zerubbabel their governor was lineally descended from David; and they had still prophets to direct and comfort them.
THE PEOPLE ENQUIRE OF THE LORD CONCERNING THEIR FASTING AND ARE REPROVED BY ZECHARIAH.
From Zechariah, Chap.xu.
And it came to pass in the fourth year of king Darius, that the word of the Lord came unto Zechariah in the fourth day of the ninth month, even in Chisleu;
When they had sent unto the house of God Sherezer and Regem-melech and their men, to pray before the Lord; and to speak unto the priests which were in the house of the Lord of hosts, and to the prophets, saying,
Should I weep in the fifth month, separating myself, as I have done these many years? Then came the word of the Lord of hosts unto Zechariah, saying.
Speak unto all the people of the land, and to the priests, saying, When ye fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh month, even those seventy years, did ye at all fast unto me, even to me?
And when ye did eat, and when ye did drink, did ye not eat for yourselves, and drink for yourselves?
Should ye not hear the words which the Lord hath cried by the former prophets, when Jerusalem was inhabited and in prosperity, and the cities thereof round about her, when men inhabited the south and the plain?
And the word of the Lord came unto Zechariah, saying,
Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, Execute. true judgment, and shew mercy and compassion every man to his brother.' i
And.oppress not the widow, nor the fatherless, the stranger, nor the poor ; and let none of you imagine evil against his brother in your heart.
But they refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not hear.
Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law and the words which the Lord of hosts hath sent in his spirit by the former prophets : therefore came a great wrath from the Loud of hosts.
Therefore it is come to pass, that as he [cried and they would not hear, so they cried and I would not hear, saith the Lord of hosts.
But I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations whom they knew not. Thus the land was desolate after them, that no man passed through nor returned : for they laid the pleasant land desolate.
ANNOTATIONS And REFLECTIONS," The Jews, who remained in Babylon;, dick not know whether they should still observe the solemn fasts which had been appointed on account of the destruction of Jerusalem, or not. Zechariah was commanded to take this opportunity of enforcing the observance of moral duties that they might not involve themselves in such calamities as had befallen their fathers.
. ) SECTION LXIX..
- Again tire word of-the Loud of hosts came unto1 me, saymg* Thus saith the Lord of hosts; I was jealous for Zion with great jealonsy, and! was jealous for 'Her- with great fury. "'
. Thus saith the: Lord: T am returned' unto Zion', arid will dwell ih-the- midst of Jerusalem: and Jerusalem shall be called', Acity of truth ; and the mountain of the Lord of hosts, The holy mountain.
Thus saith the Lord of hor;s: There shall yet old men and old'wonieifr dwttfl'in the streets of- Jerusalem, . arid every hiari^wiitH hife staff in his hand for very 'age. And the streets of the city shatl be full of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof..
Thus saith the Lord of hosts; If it be marvellous in the eyes 'of the'remnant of this people in these days, should it also be marvellbus in' mine eyes? saith the Lord of hosts. '..
Thus saith the Lord of hosts: Behold, I will save my people from, the east country, and from the west country; arid I will bring them, and they shall dwell in tire midst of Jerusalem: and they shall be my people, and I will be tfieir God in truth and in righteousness'
Thus saltlr the Lord of hosts; Let your hands be strong, ye thathear in these days these-words by the mouth of the prophets, which were in the day that the foundation of thehouse of the Lord of hosts was laid, that the temple might be built. ]'J .
For before these days there was nd hire for man, nor *uy. hire for beast; ncifhex'was there any peace to him ,.;.l;l\ that that west out, or came in, because of the afflictioh: for I set all men every one against his neighbour. . 4
But now I will not be unto the residue of this people as in the former clays, saith the Lobd of hosts.
For the seed shall be prosperous ^ the vine shall give, her fruit, and the ground shall give her increase, and the heavens shall give their dew : and I will cause the remnant of this people to possess all these things. .
And it shall come to pass, that as ye were a curse among the heathen, O house of Judah and house of Israel ;so will I save you, and ye shall be a blessing: fear not, but let your hands be strong.
For thus saith the Lord of hosts, As I thought to punish you, when your fathers provoked me to wrath, saith the Lord of hosts, and I repented not. • So again have I thought in these days to do well untoi Jerusalem and to the house of Judah : fear ye not. • . 7
These are the things that ye shall do; Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbour; execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates.;
And let none of you imagine evil in your hearts against his neighbour; and love no false oath: for all these are things that I hate, saith tKe Lord: \
ANNOTATIONS And REFLECTIONS.
This prophecy must have afforded great joy to the Jews, as it assured them not only of prosperity, but of the returning favour, of the Lord. They were now' once more in possession of the greatest treasure which' any nation can possess, the Divine Blessing. It is worthy of particular regard, that,, iu, order to secure this, the practice of moral duties is essentially necessary, and that without them ceremonial observances are not acceptable, to the Lord.