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first house,

wept with a loud voice,*-so that the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy, from the noise of the weeping." A. M. 3470. 2. What revelation was made to Daniel B. C. 534. in the third year of Cyrus ? Cyrus 3. A. Many important events relative to the Persian and Macedonian empires, and to the succession of Alexander, were revealed to him in a vision. He is supposed to have died shortly after.t A. M. 3475. Q. How long did Cyrus survive the B. C. 529. capture of Babylon? Cyrus 7. A. Nine years : he died at the age

of seventy, and was succeeded by Cambyses his son.

Q. How did the Jews proceed in the building of the temple ?

A. They contracted with the Phænicians for materials : but the Persian governors, influenced by the representations of the Samaritans, greatly retarded the work; and in the reign of Smerdis the magician, caused it entirely to cease. The Jews, therefore, conceiving

* Ezra iji. 12, 13. Haggai ii. 3.

+ If Daniel on his going to Babylon, B.C. 605, was eighteen years of age, as Dean PRIDEAUX supposes, he must have been eighty-four when he read the hand-writing on the wall to Belshazzar, and eighty-nine in the third year of Cyrus, B. C. 534, in which we find the last intination concerning him. He lived during the reign of eight princes, and held a high situation in the Babylonish government, with an unsullied reputation ; and in the midst of an idolatrous and riotous court, maintained his virtue, and set a noble example of fearless devotion to the true God.

that the proper period had not arrived, gave up the design for a time: and on this account the Lord cursed the land with barrenness.*

Q. How were they recalled to a sense of their duty ?

A. By the exhortations and remonstrances of Haggai and Zechariah, to whom the word of the Lord came in the second year of Darius, king of Persia.

Q. What memorable prophecy was uttered by Haggai about this time?

A. “Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Yet once, it is a little while ; and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land : and I will shake all nations, and the DesiRE OF ALL NATIONS shall come, and I will fill this house with glory.--The glory of this latter house shall be greater than that of the former and in this place will I give peace."

Q. Did the building of the temple now proceed ?

A. Yes : but the Samaritans again endeavouring to interrupt it, the circumstance was represented to Darius. This prince therefore caused search to be made for the decree of Cyrus, which being found, he not only confirmed it, but ordered the revenues of Samariat to be appropriated to further the building, and to provide for the temple service ; denouncing the penalty of death in

* Consult Haggai i.

+ This circumstance is supposed to have been the cause of the enmity subsisting between the Jews and Samaritans. According to Josephus, book xi. cap. 4. the affair was brought before Darius a second time, and ended to the discomfiture of the Samaritans.

case of disobedience. After this the work proceeded rapidly; and the temple being finished in the sixth year of Darius, was dedicated with great joy.

Q. What individuals hold a conspicuous place in Jewish history, after the erection of the second temple?

A. Esther, Ezra, and Nehemiah.*
Q. Who was Esther?

A. Esther, called in Hebrew, Hadassah, was a Jewish orphan, whom Mordecai her cousin, one of the servants of Ahasuerus king of Persia, brought up.

Q. What circumstance brought her into notoriety ?

A. At the conclusion of some public rejoicingst in Shushan the capital of Persia, the king being merry with wine, I sent his chamberlain to bring Vashti the queen before him, that he might show the people and the princes her beauty. Vashti, who was then enter

* The chronology of the events recorded in the books of Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther, cannot be ascertained with positive certainty ; because Ahasuerus is a name not found in profane history; and the Artaxerxes of the Scriptures remains to be identified out of two princes of that name whose history is recorded by profane writers. Archbishop Usher identifies Ahasuerus with Darius Hystaspes , JOSEPH SCALIGER, with Xerxes ; Dean PRIDEAUX, with Artax. Longimanus; but others identify bim with Artax. II. Mnemon.

+ Esther i. 3-9. conveys a very imposing idea of the magnificence, and profuse luxury of the eastern monarchs.

The Persian monarchs considered it meritorious to be able to bear much liqrior. A boast of this nature was recorded in the epitaph of Darius Hystaspes ; and Cyrus the younger urged his capacity in this way as a recommendation to the throne.

taining the women at a separate feast*, conceiving this to be a great indignity, refused to obey the royal mandate, and was therefore divorced. About two years after, all the fair virgins in the empire were by a royal decree assembled in Shushan ; and in the seventh year of his reign, the king selected Esther from among them to be his consort, though he had no knowledge of her kindred.

Q. How did the king celebrate the nuptials?

A. With very great festivities : for he made a release to the provinces, and gave gifts, according to the state of the king.

Q. Did Esther retain her respect for Mordecai after her preferment?

A. Yes : she obeyed him “ as when she was brought up with him.”

Q. What service did Mordecai render to the king sometime after the marriage ?

A. He detected a plot against the king's life, which having made known, an inquiry was instituted ; and the conspirators were apprehended and put to death.

Q. To which of the princes of the kingdom was Ahasuerus most attached ?

A. To Haman, son of Hammedatha the Agagite, whom he set above all the other princes, and to whom all the king's servants were commanded to do reverence.

Q. Did the favour of his sovereign, and the homage paid him by all classes of the people, consummate his felicity

* “ The women of the east never mingle with the men in public.”—Dr. A. CLARKE's Comment.

A. No: he became miserable in the midst of all his grandeur, because Mordecai who sat in the king's gate, “ bowed not, nor did him reverence.”

Q. What was the consequence ?

A. His pride led him to thirst for revenge : and scorning to lay hands on Mordecai alone, he formed a scheme to destroy the whole of the Jews dispersed throughout the empire. Having therefore by gross misrepresentations induced the king to accede to his views, he dictated a decree* for their extirpation, and having sealed it with the king's ring, dispatched it by post, to all parts of the empire.

Q. What was the consequence of this measure ?

A. “ The city Shushan was perplexed—and in every province there was great mourning among the Jews." Mordecai however used his influence to procure the intercession of Esther, who promised to venture into the presence of the king, t provided all the Jews in Shushan would fast for her three days and three nights. Accordingly on the third day she presented herself to the king, who received her graciously, demanded the cause of her visit, and promised to grant her request to the half of his kingdom.

* This decree was written eleven months before the day fixed upon for the sarguinary deed. Esther iii. 12–13. According to Dean PRIDEAUX the diviners were assembled in the beginning of the year, that by casting lots then they might discover the day and month most auspicious to the undertaking.

+ It was death to enter the inner court where the king was, unless he indicated his approbation by holding out the golden sceptre. Esther iv. 11.

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