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GOD'S BLESSING RESTORED.
From Zech. Chap. viii. AGAIN the word of the Lord of hosts came unto me, saying, Thus saith the Lord of hosts ; I was jealous for Zion with great jealousy, and I was jealous for her with great fury.
Thus saith the LORD: I am returned unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem : and Jerusalem shall be called, A city of truth; and the mountain of the LORD of hosts, The holy mountain.
Thus saith the LORD of hosts : There shall yet old men and old women dwell in the streets of Jerusalem, and every man with his staff in his hand for very age. And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof.
Thus saith the Lord of hosts ; If it be marvellousin the eyes of the remnant of this people in these days, should it also be maryellous 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 coun. try; and I will bring them and they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem ; and they shall be my people, and. I will be their God in truth and in righteousness.
Thus saith the LORD of hosts ; Let your hands be strong, ye that hear in these days these words by the mouth of the prophets, which were in the day that the foundation of the house of the Lord of hosts was laid, · that the temple might be built.
For before these days there was no hire for man, por any hire for beasts; neither was there any peace to him
that went out, or came in, because of the affliction : for I set all men every one against his neighbour.
But now I will not be unto the residue of this people as in the former days, saith the Lord 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 host, 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 unto Jerusalem and to the house of Judah: fear ye not.
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 the 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, in order to secure this, the practice of moral duties is essentially necessary, and that without them ceremonial observances are not acceptable to the LORD.
in the beginning of the fifth year of Darius, the Babylonians revolted from him, on account of his having removed the imperial seat to Shushan; and they resolved to set up a king for themselves, and began to lay in provisions for a war. At length they broke into open rebellion, and were besieged by Darius. Conscious that they were not able to meet him in the field, they resolved to maintain themselves during the siege: and, that their provisions might hold out, they came to a desperate resolution to cut off the useless part of the inhabitants : and, collecting together the women and children they strangled them all, excepting only that each man was allowed to save one of his wives, and a maid servant to do the work of his house. The Israelites had been warned about two years before to flee out of that land that they might be delivered from the plagues which were coming on it; and there is great reason to suppose that they did so. Darius, in about a year and eight months took Babylon; and, as soon as he was master of the place, he removed its hundred gates, and beat down its walls, reducing their height from two hundred cubits to thirty, and gave the inhabitants up for a spoil to the Persians, who had been their servants.
He impaled three thousand of the most guilty, and pardoned the rest.
It is to be observed, that the punishment of Babylon kept pace with the restoration of Judah, according to the prophecy of Jeremiah *; and they were subjected to the Persians in the same manner as they had conquered and subjected the Jews. Babylon languished from this time, and at last came to utter desolation.
* Jer. xxv, 12, 13, 14.
THE TEMPLE AT JERUSALEM FINISHED AND DEDI
And the elders of the Jews builded, and they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet, and Zechariah the son of Iddo. And they builded, and finished the temple, according to the commandment of the God of Israel, and according to the commandment of Cyrus, and Darius, and Artaxerxes king of Persia,
And this house was finished on the third day of the month of Adar, which was in the sixth year of the reign of Darius the king.
And the children of Israel, the priests, and the Levites, and the rest of the children of the captivity, kept the dedication of this house of God with joy, and offered at the dedication of this house of God an hundred bul. locks, two hundred rams, four hundred lambs; and for a sin-offering for all Israel, twelve he-goats, according to the number of the tribes of Israel.
And they set the priests in their divisions, and the Levites in their courses, for the service of God which is at Jerusalem; as it is written in the book of Moses.
For the priests and the Levites were purified together, all of them were pure, and killed the passover for all the children of the captivity, and for their brethren the priests, and for themselves.
And the children of Israel, which were come again out of captivity, and all such as had separated them- , selves unto them from the filthiness of the heathen of the land, to seek the Lord God of Israel, did eat.
And the children of the captivity kept the passover upon the fourteenth day of the first month. And kept the feast of unleavened bread seven days
with joy: for the Lord had made them joyful, and turned the heart of the king of Persia unto them, to strengthen their hands in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS. The Israelites must undoubtedly have felt great joy at the dedication of the Temple. It was not indeed in their power to adorn it in so magnificent a manner as Solomon's, nor to celebrate its dedication with such numberless sacrifices; and it wanted advantages which the first Temple enjoyed; particularly the Token of the DIVINE PRESENCE, the Ark of the Covenant, the Urim and THUMMIM, and the Holy Firs on the AlTAR: but they had a promise, that the glory of this Tomple should exceed that of Solomon's. It is observable, that there were twelve he-goats offered ; from which we may understand, that some of all the tribes returned to Jerusalem, though that of Judah being the most numerous, they were denominated from it; and from this time All the people began to be called Jews.
The temple was twenty years in building : at the dedication of it, the following Psalms are supposed to have been sung.
* Praise ye the LORD. Praise the LORD, O my soul.
While I live, will I praise the LORD: I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being.
Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help.
His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth : in that very day' his thoughts perish.
Happy is he that hath the Gon of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God: * Psalm calv.