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after their return from captivity (o). The descendants of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and David, from all of whom it was predicted that the Saviour of the world should be born, are here marked with precision. These genealogies occupy the first nine chapters, and in the tenth is recorded the death of Saul. From the eleventh chapter to the end of the book, we have a history of the reign of David, with a detailed statement of his preparation for the building of the temple, of his regulations respecting the priests and Levites, and his appointment of musicians for the public service of religion. The second book of Chronicles contains a brief sketch of the Jewish history, from the accession of Solomon to the return from the Babylonian captivity, being a period of 480 years; and in both these books we find many particulars, not noticed in the other historical books of Scripture.

Ezra, the author of the book which bears his name, was of the sacerdotal family, being a direct descendant from Aaron, and succeeded Zerubbabel in the government of Judæa. This book begins with the repetition of the last two verses of

the

(0) The care with which the genealogies of the twelve tribes were preserved, is particularly mentioned by Josephus (contr. Apion, book 1.) It seems to have been necessary to the preservation of their civil rights, and their religious polity, as well as to prove the fulfilment of the promise respecting the Messiah.

the second book of Chronicles, and carries the Jewish history through a period of 79 years, commencing from the edict of Cyrus. The first six chapters contain an account of the return of the Jews under Zerubbabel, after the captivity of 70 years; of their re-establishment in Judæa; and of the building and dedication of the temple at Jerusalem. In the last four chapters, Ezra relates his own appointment to the government of Judæa by Artaxerxes Longimanus; his journey thither from Babylon; the disobedience of the Jews; and the reform which he immediately effected among them. It is to be observed, that between the dedication of the temple and the departure of Ezra, that is, between the 6th and 7th chapters of this book, there was an interval of about 58 years, during which nothing is here related concerning the Jews, except that, contrary to God's command, they intermarried with Gentiles. This book is written in Chaldee from the 8th verse of the 4th chapter to the 27th verse of the 7th chapter. It is probable that the sacred historian used the Chaldaic language in this part of his work, because it contains chiefly letters and decrees written in that language, the original words of which he might think it right to record; and indeed the people, who were recently returned from the Babylonian captivity, were at least as

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familiar with the Chaldee as they were with the Hebrew tongue.

Nehemiah (p) professes himself the author of the book which bears his name, in the very beginning of it, and he uniformly writes in the first person. He was of the tribe of Judah, and was probably born at Babylon during the captivity. He was so distinguished for his family and attainments, as to be selected for the office of cup-bearer to the king of Persia, a situation of great honour and emolument. He was made governor of Judæa, upon his own application, by Artaxerxes Longimanus; and this book, which in the Hebrew canon was joined to that of Ezra, gives an account of his appointment and administration through a space of about 36 years to A. M. 3595, at which time the Scripture history closes and consequently these historical books, from Joshua to Nehemiah inclusive, contain the history of the Jewish people from the death of Moses, A. M. 2553, to the reformation established by Nehemiah, after the return from captivity, being a period of 1042 years.

The book of Esther is so called, because it contains the history of Esther, a Jewish captive, who by her remarkable accomplishments gained

the

(p) Nehemiah, who wrote this book, was not the Nehemiah who returned from the Babylonian captivity with Zerubbabel.

the affection of king Ahasuerus, and by marriage with him was raised to the throne of Persia; and it relates the origin and ceremonies of the feast of Purim, instituted in commemoration of the great deliverance, which she, by her interest, procured for the Jews, whose general destruction had been concerted by the offended pride of Haman. There is great diversity of opinion concerning the author of this book; it has been ascribed to Ezra, to Mordecai, to Joachim, and to the joint labours of the great synagogue; and it is impossible to decide which of these opinions is the most probable. We are told, that the facts here recorded happened in the reign of Ahasuerus king of Persia, "who reigned from India even unto Ethiopia, over 127 provinces (q);" and this extent of dominion plainly proves that he was one of the successors of Cyrus. That point is indeed allowed by all; but learned men differ concerning the person meant by Ahasue rus, whose name does not occur in profane history; and consequently they are not agreed concerning the precise period to which we are to assign this history. Archbishop Usher (r) supposed, that by Ahasuerus was meant Darius Hystaspes, and Joseph Scaliger (s) contended that Xerxes

(9) C. 1. v. I.

(r) Ann, Vett. Test, sub, ann. Jul. Per. 4193 (s) De Emend. Temp. lib. 6.

Xerxes was meant; but in my judgment Dean Prideaux has very satisfactorily shewn, that by Ahasuerus we are to understand Artaxerxes Longimanus (t). Josephus (v) also considered Ahasuerus and Artaxerxes as the same person; and we may observe, that Ahasuerus is always translated Artaxerxes in the Septuagint version; and he is called by that name in the apocryphal part of the book of Esther. Upon these authorities I place the commencement of this history about A. M. 3544, and it continues through a space not exceeding twenty

years.

The book of Job contains the history of Job,

man equally distinguished for purity and uprightness of character, and for honours, wealth, and domestic felicity; whom God permitted, for the trial of his faith, to be suddenly deprived of all his numerous blessings, and to be at once plunged into the deepest affliction, and most accumulated distress. It gives an account of his eminent piety, patience, and resignation, under the pressure of these severe calamities, and of his subsequent elevation to a degree of prosperity and happiness, still greater than that which he had before enjoyed. How long the sufferings of Job continued we are not informed; but it is said,

that

(t) Part 1st, book 5th. (v) Ant. lib. 11. cap. 6.

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