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"Babylon The Great Has Fallen!"
God's Kingdom Rules!



Chapter 18

Getting Out of the Midst of Babylon

IN OBEDIENCE to the divine command, a remnant of faithful Jews quit their exile in Babylonia and made their way back to their God-given homeland. Their eyes were specially fixed on Zion, Jerusalem. Concerning the date of this, The Graphic Historical Atlas of Palestine* says, on page 34, that in 538 B.C. Cyrus the Persian issued his proclamation freeing the Jews to return to Jerusalem and rebuild its temple, and that they reached their desolate homeland in 537 B.C. Under the heading "Babylonian Captivity," The Encyclopaedia Britannica (eleventh edition), Volume 3, page 115b, says: "After the overthrow of Babylonia by the Persians, Cyrus gave the Jews permission to return to their native land (537 B.C.), and more than forty thousand are said to have availed themselves of the privilege."†

* Published by Dr. J. Szapiro, editor, Tel-Aviv, Israel, 1941, English edition.
† Says Brl, Volume 10, page 108a, under the heading "Books of Ezra and Nehemiah": "The period of history covered by the books of Ezra and Nehemiah extended from the return of the exiles under Zerubbabel in 537-536 B.C. to Nehemiah's second visit to Jerusalem ....
Under the heading "Book of Ezra" Am1, Volume 10, page 689a, says: "The book of Ezra covers the history from 537 B.C. to 458, although some would substitute another date for the latter one."
The book The Monuments and the Old Testament (1958), by Price, Sellers and Carlson, says, on page 319, that it was "about 538 or 537 B.C." that Cyrus published his decree in Babylon for captive peoples to go back to their homelands, the Jews receiving special help by the authorities. Under the heading "The Ancient Dates Employed" it says, on page 414, regarding the year B.C., "537-536 Hebrew Exiles Return."
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That the year of the return of the Jewish remnant to Judah and Jerusalem was marked in God's time schedule, we have the proof in Ezra 1:1-4. This reads: "And in the first year of Cyrus the king of Persia, that Jehovah's word from the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, Jehovah roused the spirit of Cyrus the king of Persia so that he caused a cry to pass through all his realm, and also in writing, saying: 'This is what Cyrus the king of Persia has said, "All the kingdoms of the earth Jehovah the God of the heavens has given me, and he himself has commissioned me to build him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever there is among you of all his people, may his God prove to be with him. So let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and rebuild the house of Jehovah the God of Israel — he is the true God — which was in Jerusalem. As for anyone that is left from all the places where he is residing as an alien, let the men of his place assist him with silver and with gold and with goods and with domestic animals along with the voluntary offering for the house of the true God, which was in Jerusalem." ' "

This decree by Cyrus did not apply to the fugitive Jews in Egypt. The land of Egypt was first added to the Persian Empire after Cyrus' death by his son and successor, Cambyses, this bringing the entire Mesopotamian-Egyptian region under Persian control by 525 B.C. But Cyrus could make a decree affecting the land of Judah in Palestine, because, when he captured Babylon in 539 B.C., he got possession not only of Babylonia itself but also of its foreign holdings, which included Syria, Palestine and the part of Assyria that Cyrus did not already hold. He fell in death about 530 B.C. while in battle northeast of the Caspian Sea. To his son and successor Cambyses he left an empire that extended from the Aegean Sea on the west to the Indies in the east — the Fourth World Power.

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In calculating the "first year of Cyrus the king of Persia," we must faithfully proceed according to the inspired Word of Jehovah God. We accept from secular historians the year 539 B.C. as a fixed date, marking the downfall of Babylon, the Third World Power. But the Bible introduces, immediately after the fall of Babylon in that year of 539 B.C., the reign at Babylon of Darius the Mede. (Daniel 5:30, 31) The prophet Daniel, who was there at Babylon, speaks of the "first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus of the seed of the Medes, who had been made king over the kingdom of the Chaldeans." (Daniel 9:1; 11:1; 6: 1, 6, 9, 25, 28) In harmony with the Bible we must accept at least one year, with possibly part of a second year, for King Darius the Mede. Hence, at the earliest, the first year of King Cyrus the Persian may not have begun till late in the year 538 B.C. to extend over into the following year of 537 B.C.*

Cyrus' decree was evidently not issued before the first year of Darius the Mede was disposed of and Cyrus became sole ruler of Babylon. The Bible does not say that it was in the first year of the reign of King Darius the Mede that Cyrus issued his decree, nor does the Bible say that Jerusalem's desolation came to an end in the first year of King Darius' reign. It was in the first year of his reign that the prophet Daniel studied Jeremiah's prophecy concerning Jerusalem's desolation, and this study on Daniel's part must have been before


* On page 404 of Volume 4, The Jewish Encyclopedia says: "Cyrus always conformed to the traditions of the thrones he usurped, and, together with his son Cambyses, rendered homage to the native deities. On the first day of the year, Nisan 1 (March 20), 538, in conformity with Babylonian custom, he grasped the hands of the golden statue of Bel-Marduk, and thus became consecrated as monarch. From this ceremony dates the first year of his reign as 'King of Babylon, King of all the Lands.' " Cyrus thus had himself proclaimed as king of Babylon and as the legitimate successor to the deposed King Nabonidus. By doing this he did not have to reconquer the Babylonian Empire. Babylon's foreign possessions, Syria, Phoenicia, Palestine and the borderlands of the desert, all came to be tributary to Cyrus. —  See The Westminster Historical Atlas to the Bible (1956), page 75, paragraph 3.
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Cyrus issued his decree in his own name in his own first year of his reign aside from Darius the Mede.  — Daniel 9:1-18.

In view of the time that it took the homesick Jews to get ready and then make the trek back to Judah and Jerusalem, the decree of Cyrus must have been made toward the close of winter and the beginning of spring of 537 B.C. This agrees with the date fixed by the authorities quoted or referred to above.

It is very important to fix this date, for by means of it we are able to fix the date for the beginning of the desolation of the land of Judah and the beginning of the "times of the Gentiles," or, "the appointed times of the nations." (Luke 21:24. AV; NW)* The Bible leaves us in no uncertainty as to how long the desolation of the land of Judah and its capital was to be. That it was to be for a certain number of years and that it was to be ended as a result of Cyrus' decree is plainly stated for us in 2 Chronicles 36:20-23. after that chapter tells of how King Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the city of Jerusalem. The above-cited verses read:

"Furthermore, he carried off those remaining from the sword captive to Babylon, and they came to be servants to him and his sons until the royalty of Persia began to reign; to fulfill Jehovah's word by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had paid off its sabbaths.


* If we proceed according to the cuneiform inscriptions, rather than the Bible, we have to take the position that Darius the Mede and Cyrus the Persian reigned concurrently for a time. According to this, the accession year (an incomplete lunar year) of Cyrus as king of Babylon began on October 23 of 539 B.C., when he entered the city (by day) after its capture by his troops. Hence his first regnal year (a full lunar year) began on Nisan 1 of 538 B.C., or on March 17/18 of 538 B.C., Gregorian time.
The cuneiform tablet entitled "Strassmaier, Cyrus No. 11" mentions Cyrus' first regnal year. By this tablet it is calculated that this year began March 17/18, 538 B.C., and it ended on March 4/5 of 537 B.C.. Gregorian time. So Cyrus' second regnal year began the next day, on March 5/6, 537 B.C. In this case Cyrus' decree must have been made before this latter date, that is, late in the year 538 or early in 537 B.C. See pages 14, 29 of Babylonian Chronology 626 B.C. - A.D. 75, edition of 1956, by Parker and Dubberstein.
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All the days of lying desolated it kept sabbath, to fulfill seventy years. And in the first year of Cyrus the king of Persia, that Jehovah's word by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, Jehovah roused the spirit of Cyrus the king of Persia, so that he caused a cry to pass through all his kingdom, and also in writing, saying: 'This is what Cyrus the king of Persia has said, "All the kingdoms of the earth Jehovah the God of the heavens has given me, and he himself has commissioned me to build him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever there is among you of all his people, Jehovah his God be with him. So let him go up." ' "

Later, in the reign of Darius I the Persian, successor to Cambyses the son of Cyrus, the official copy of Cyrus' decree was found in Ecbatana (Achmetha, AV), which was the former capital of Media and the summer residence of King Cyrus, northeast of Babylon. In this regard, the account in Ezra 6:1-5 says:

"It was then that Darius the king put an order through, and they made an investigation in the house of the records of the treasures deposited there in Babylon. And at Ecbatana [Achmetha], in the fortified place that was in the jurisdictional district of Media, there was found a scroll, and the memorandum to this effect was written within it: 'In the first year of Cyrus the king, Cyrus the king put an order through concerning the house of God in Jerusalem: Let the house be rebuilt as the place where they are to offer sacrifices, and its foundations are to be fixed, its height being sixty cubits, its width sixty cubits, with three layers of stones rolled into place and one layer of timbers; and let the expense be given from the king's house. And also let the gold and silver vessels of the house of God that Nebuchadnezzar took out of the temple that was in Jerusalem and brought to Babylon be returned, that they may reach the temple that is in Jerusalem at its place and be deposited in the house of God.' " — Compare Ezra 5:13-15.

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The decree of Cyrus did not in itself end the seventy-year desolation of the land of Judah and Jerusalem. The exiled Jews themselves had to take advantage of the decree and leave Babylon and go back to their homeland and reoccupy it, in order to end its desolation. Many of the Jewish exiles had become established in Babylonia and preferred to remain there, having become materialistic. There was, however, a remnant of Jewish exiles that yearned for Jehovah's worship at the very site, in the very city, where He had placed his name. They were so eager to go back to Zion (Jerusalem) that their efforts to do so were as if in a swift flight from Babylon. They desired to obey Jehovah's command through Isaiah and Jeremiah, to get out of the midst of Babylon, touching none of her unclean things, that thus they might be clean and bear Jehovah's sacred utensils of worship back to the site of his holy temple. — Isaiah 52:11: Jeremiah 50:8; 51:6.

One of those who were willing to go to the homeland of their forefathers and rebuild the temple of Jehovah at Jerusalem was one Sheshbazzar. This was the Hebrew form for his name in Babylonian, Shamash-aba-usur, or, Shamash-bana-usur, which meant "O Shamash, Protect the Father." It is possible that the full name was Shamash-ban-zeri-Babili-usur, meaning "O Shamash, Protect the Father [Builder] of the Seed of Babylon." (Shamash was the Babylonian sun-god.) In Ezra 3:2, 8 the Jewish prince bearing this name is identified with Zerubbabel, the son of a descendant of King David. (Matthew 1:6-13) King Cyrus made him governor of the returning Jews.

Cyrus entrusted this Sheshbazzar or Zerubbabel with the delivering of the sacred utensils of Jehovah's worship back to the temple site at Jerusalem. These included vessels out of which Belshazzar and his grandees had drunk on the night of Babylon's fall. Cyrus had these utensils taken out of the pagan temple where

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Nebuchadnezzar had stored them after stealing them from Jerusalem. (Ezra 1:7-11) The Jewish high priest, Joshua (or Jeshua) the son of Jehozadak, was most interested in their safe delivery, and he accompanied Governor Zerubbabel back to the site of the holy city. All together a congregation of 42,360 faithful Jews left Babylon. They were accompanied by thousands of non-Jewish associates, namely, 7,337 men slaves and slave girls, and 200 male and female singers. (Ezra 2:1-67) For them it was a four-month-long journey to Jerusalem, as early after Cyrus' decree as possible.

SEVENTY YEARS' DESOLATION ENDS

So, in the year 537 B.C., the land of Judah began to be once again inhabited by man and domestic beast. There was no one in the land to keep them out. Almighty God had preserved the land unoccupied in order that it might enjoy the sabbath years of complete rest that it deserved, with no one on it to cultivate or work it. Every year of its lying thus desolate was the equivalent of a sabbath year according to Jehovah's law through Moses. (Leviticus 25:1-12) Regarding this repeopling of the land of Judah we read: "And the priests and the Levites and some of the people, and the singers and the gatekeepers and the Nethinim took up dwelling in their cities, and all Israel in their cities. When the seventh month [Tishri] arrived the sons of Israel were in their cities." — Ezra 2:70; 3:1.

How remarkable this was! Why? Well, in the seventh Jewish month of the year of Jerusalem's destruction the land of Judah was left completely desolate by the flight of the poor Jews who had not been deported, taking the prophet Jeremiah with them down into Egypt. (2 Kings 25:22-26: Jeremiah 41:1 to 43:8) That was also the very month in which sabbath years and Jubilee years began, namely, "in the seventh month on the tenth of the month; on the day of atonement." (Leviticus 25:9. 10) Since the desolation had begun in the seventh month, the desolation of the land

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ought to end officially in that same month; and Ezra 3:1 officially declares that it ended in that month.

Since we have determined the year and the month in which the desolation ended, it is simple mathematics to calculate when the desolation began upon the land of Judah. All we have to do is to measure back seventy years, forasmuch as the desolation was foretold to last seventy years and it actually lasted seventy years. Seventy years back from the seventh month (Tishri) of the year 537 B.C. brings us to the month Tishri of the year 607 B.C.

In 607 B.C. the month Tishri began on September 22/23, the day for the observance of the festival of the new moon. In that month of 607 B.C. the "seven times," or, "the times of the Gentiles," "the appointed times of the nations," began.* (Daniel 4:16, 23, 25, 32; Luke 21:24, AV; NW) This was two months after Jerusalem had been destroyed and its temple plundered, wrecked and burned down, after which its two principal priests were killed. — 2 Kings 25:5-21.

Jehovah God is thus proved to be an accurate Timekeeper. If we follow his system of counting time, according to his written Word, we shall make no mistakes in our calculations. We cannot therefore go along with the chronologers of Christendom who date Jerusalem's . destruction as occurring in 587 B.C. and who thereby limit the desolation of the land of Judah without man or domestic animal to merely fifty years. Almighty God decreed that the land had to lie unworked, uninhabited for seventy years in order to enjoy a relatively perfect number of sabbaths, that is to say, ten times seven sabbaths. Had the land enjoyed less than this perfect number of seventy years, it would not have enjoyed its full number of sabbaths. God's decree could not be broken or set aside, and, true to his decree, the land of Judah did rest uninhabited seventy years, from


* See page 178, paragraph 2, to page 180, paragraph 3.
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607 to 537 B.C. In his own Word Almighty God, the perfect Time Measurer and Counter, says so. — 2 Chronicles 36:19-23

The worshipful remnant of Israelites who took their flight out of Babylon with Governor Zerubbabel (Sheshbazzar) and High Priest Joshua (Jeshua) were like the basket of "good figs" before Jehovah's temple that Jeremiah saw in vision eleven years before Jerusalem was destroyed and the land of Judah was desolated. God said: "I shall certainly cause them to return to this land. And I will build them up, and I shall not tear down; and I will plant them, and I shall not uproot. And I will give them a heart to know me, that I am Jehovah; and they must become my people, and I myself shall become their God, for they will return to me with all their heart." (Jeremiah 24:1-7) So the remnant were intent on rebuilding Jehovah's temple and resuming his worship in the place where he had put his name, in harmony with the decree of King Cyrus.

In Isaiah 44:28 Jehovah had spoken of himself as "the One saying of Cyrus, 'He is my shepherd, and all that I delight in he will completely carry out'; even in my saying of Jerusalem, 'She will be rebuilt,' and of the temple, 'You will have your foundation laid.' "

In fulfillment of this prophecy Cyrus had, as it were, shepherded Jehovah's sheep back to their proper fold in the land of Judah. Immediately after they arrived and got settled there by the seventh month (Tishri) of 537 B.C., it was too soon for them to lay the temple's foundation. However, the start of Jehovah's worship did not have to wait till the temple foundation was laid. What they needed first was an acceptable altar, and this as soon as possible before the enemy nations roundabout tried to interfere with them in restoring Jehovah's worship there. Hence we read:


And Jeshua the son of Jehozadak and his brothers the priests and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and his

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brothers proceeded to rise up and build the altar of the God of Israel, to offer up burnt sacrifices upon it, according to what is written in the law of Moses the man of the true God. So they established the altar firmly upon its own site, for fright came upon them because of the peoples of the lands, and they began offering up burnt sacrifices to Jehovah upon it, the burnt sacrifices of the morning and of the evening. Then they held the festival of booths according to what is written, with the burnt sacrifices day by day in number according to the rule of what was due each day. And afterward there was the constant burnt offering and that for the new moons and for all the sanctified festival seasons of Jehovah and for everyone that willingly offered a voluntary offering to Jehovah. — Ezra 3:2-5.


Just when was it that they set up the altar on the site of the former one in Solomon's temple? It was on the first day of the seventh month (Tishri), or on September 28/29, of 537 B.C.* Otherwise, the report in Ezra 3:6 could not be true: "From the first day of the seventh month on they started to offer up burnt sacrifices to Jehovah, when the foundation of Jehovah's temple itself had not yet been laid." Thus first they must have celebrated the festival of the new moon, the seventh new moon which had marked the beginning of the old year before Jehovah changed the beginning of the year to the month of Nisan at the time of Israel's exodus from Egypt. (Numbers 10:10; 28: 11; 1 Samuel 20:5, 18, 24) That day of the seventh new moon was the day ordained for a "holy convention" at the temple and for the blowing of the two silver trumpets over the sacrifices on the altar. There was also the blowing of the ram's horn, the shopher, to mark that day. — Numbers 29:1-6.

With all fitness, then, the restored Israelites were holding a convention at Jerusalem on this first day of the seventh month. On the fifteenth day of that month


* Or, according to the Julian Calendar, October 4/5, 537 B.C. See Babylonian Chronology 626 B.C. - A.D. 75 (edition of 1956), by Parker and Dubberstein, page 29.
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they kept God's law by beginning the celebration of the seven-day festival of the booths, the festival of the ingathering. (Leviticus 23:33-43; Exodus 23:16; 34: 22) What a joyful celebration that must have been for those returned Jews! Doubtless the Nethinim who had returned with them served in connection with the altar by procuring wood and water. — Ezra 2:70.

From then on the preparations went forward for rebuilding the temple itself. "And in the second year [536 B.C.] of their coming to the house of the true God at Jerusalem, in the second month [Ziv or Iyyar, the month in which King Solomon had begun building the first temple], Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and Jeshua the son of Jehozadak and the rest of their brothers, the priests and the Levites, and all those who had come out of the captivity to Jerusalem started; and they now put in positions the Levites from twenty years of age upward to act as supervisors over the work of the house of Jehovah. . . . When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of Jehovah, then the priests in official clothing, with the trumpets, and the Levites the sons of Asaph, with the cymbals, stood up to praise Jehovah according to the direction of David the king of Israel. And they began to respond by praising and giving thanks to Jehovah, 'for he is good, for his loving-kindness toward Israel is to time indefinite.' As for all the people, they shouted with a loud shout in praising Jehovah over the laying of the foundation of the house of Jehovah. And many of the priests and the Levites and the heads of the paternal houses, the old men that had seen the former house [built by Solomon], were weeping with a loud voice at the laying of the foundation of this house before their eyes, while many others were raising the voice in shouting for joy." This confusion of sounds was heard far away.  — Ezra 3:7-13.

Jehovah's words concerning the temple, "You will have your foundation laid," were thus fulfilled in vin-

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dication of him as a truth teller, a God of true prophecy. The people of the lands roundabout were denied any part in the rebuilding of Jehovah's house. So they began to interfere with its building. They used all means to "frustrate their counsel all the days of Cyrus the king of Persia down till the reign of Darius the king of Persia." (Ezra 4:1-5) Finally they procured the edict of the king of Persia ordering the Jews to stop building. "It was then that the work on the house of God, which was in Jerusalem, stopped; and it continued stopped until the second year of the reign of Darius the king of Persia." (Ezra 4:6-24) This is, of course, not Darius the Mede, but King Darius I the Persian, who began ruling the empire in 522 B.C.

In that year Darius I had to move against Babylon and its local ruler (Nidintu-Bel), who had taken the name of Nebuchadnezzar III. Darius defeated him in battle and shortly afterward captured him and killed him at Babylon, which had tried to assert its independence. After that Darius I was recognized as king of Babylon till September, 521 B.C. Then Babylon revolted under the Armenian Araka, who took the name of Nebuchadnezzar IV.* Thus Darius had to reconquer the Babylonians. After the city had been taken by storm that same year, he entered Babylon as conqueror. The old tradition was thus broken, namely, that Babylon's god Bel was the one to confer on a man the right to rule that part of the earth; and Darius the conqueror ceased to acknowledge such a false claim. What a blow for Bel or Marduk! This time, after the Persians took the city, they did not deal with it leniently, as Cyrus had dealt with it. Says The History of Herodotus, Book 3, chapter 159:


Thus was Babylon taken for the second time. Darius, having become master of the place, destroyed the wall,


* See pages 15, 16 of Babylonian Chronology 626 B.C. - A.D. 75, edition of 1956, by Parker and Dubberstein.
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and tore down the gates; for Cyrus had done neither the one nor the other when he took Babylon.†


The Encyclopaedia Britannica (1910), Volume 3, page 106b, says:


On this occasion, after its capture by the Persians, the walls were partly destroyed. E-Sagila, the great temple of Bel, however, still continued to be kept in repair and to be a centre of Babylonian patriotism, until at last the foundation of Seleucia [after 311 B.C.] diverted the population to the new capital of Babylonia and the ruins of the old city became a quarry for the builders of the new seat of government.


Babylon continued its decline, as Jehovah God had doomed it to do.

REBUILDING THE TEMPLE COMPLETED

Whereas Babylon was thus declining, under the blows struck by King Darius I of Persia, the city of Zion (Jerusalem) was taking on more glory and beauty due to the consideration of this same Persian king. In the year 536 B.C. the foundation of Jehovah's temple had been laid in accord with the decree of King Cyrus, but shortly afterward the Samaritan enemies of the Jews put up interference and finally caused an imperial ban to be placed on the rebuilding of a temple at Jerusalem. So for over fifteen years afterward the Jewish remnant kept building new homes for themselves in the reoccupied land of Judah and Jerusalem and running into them, but the foundation of Jehovah's temple kept lying neglected, without a superstructure.

Ah, but in the second year of the reign of Darius I, in which year he put down a second rebellion in Babylon, Jehovah God raised up two prophets in the land of Judah to stir up the Jewish remnant to resume building the temple in harmony with the original decree of King Cyrus. (Haggai 1:1-3, 9: Zechariah 1:1-3, 16). We read:


† See Lane's Babylonian Problems, page 213.
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"Until the second year of the reign of Darius the king of Persia [that is, until 521 B.C.]. And Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the grandson of Iddo the prophet prophesied to the Jews who were in Judah and in Jerusalem, in the name of the God of Israel who was over them. It was then that Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and Jeshua the son of Jehozadak got up and started to rebuild the house of God, which was in Jerusalem; and with them there were God's prophets giving them aid." — Ezra 4:24 to 5:2.

This rebuilding work came to the knowledge of Persian-appointed governors and officials over provinces between the Euphrates River and the Mediterranean, and they questioned the lawfulness of the work. When the Jews refused to stop the work because it was put in question, Tattenai the governor, to whom Zerubbabel was answerable, and the other interested officials wrote the king of Persia about the matter and asked for his decision. — Ezra 5:3-17.

As the Jews had started rebuilding on the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month (or, about September 25), of 521 B.C., while it was near summer, the letter was probably sent to the city of Ecbatana. From the days of Cyrus the Great the Persian kings formed the habit of living in the city of Shushan (Greek, Susa) in the winter and in Ecbatana during the summer, Babylon being used as a third capital. At his summer capital the Persian ruler took action.

"It was then that Darius the king put an order through, and they made an investigation in the house of the records of the treasures deposited there in Babylon. And at Ecbatana, in the fortified place that was in the jurisdictional district of Media, there was found a scroll [not a cuneiform tablet], and the memorandum to this effect was written within it: 'In the first year of Cyrus the king, Cyrus the king put an order through concerning the house of God in Jerusalem: Let the house be rebuilt as the place where they are to offer

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sacrifices, and its foundations are to be fixed, its height being sixty cubits, its width sixty cubits, with three layers of stones rolled into place and one layer of timbers; and let the expense be given from the king's house. And also let the gold and silver vessels of the house of God that Nebuchadnezzar took out of the temple that was in Jerusalem and brought to Babylon be returned, that they may reach the temple that is in Jerusalem at its place and be deposited in the house of God.' " — Ezra 6:1-5.

This decree of Cyrus established the legality of the temple work that the Jews were then doing, and King Darius recognized the decree as being unchangeable. Accordingly he told the governors and officials to let the temple work at Jerusalem proceed and themselves to lend material aid toward its completion. Also sacrificial victims were to be supplied to the temple priests, that they might "continually be presenting soothing offerings to the God of the heavens and praying for the life of the king and his sons." If anybody violated this royal order, he was to be impaled and his house turned into a public privy. "And," the king's order said in conclusion, "may the God who has caused his name to reside there overthrow any king and people that thrusts his hand out to commit a violation and destroy that house of God, which is in Jerusalem. I, Darius, do put through an order. Let it be done promptly." (Ezra 6:6-12) The government officials promptly complied with this order, and the temple building made good progress, being encouraged along by the prophesying of Haggai and Zechariah. — Ezra 6:13. 14.

In a little less than four and a half years' time the Jewish builders under Governor Zerubbabel and High Priest Jeshua completed the temple. Ezra 6:15 gives the date of completion, saying: "And they completed this house by the third day of the lunar month Adar, that is, in the sixth year of the reign of Darius the king." If the first year of King Darius I is counted

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from 522 B.C., when his predecessor Cambyses died, then the rebuilding of the temple was completed in March of 516 B.C.*

As the lunar month Adar comes just before the passover month of Nisan, the completing of the temple on Adar 3 enabled the Jews to inaugurate the rebuilt temple in sufficient time to hold the passover in the beginning of the seventh year of King Darius I. "And the sons of Israel, the priests and the Levites and the rest of the former exiles held the inauguration of this house of God with joy." The joy must have been greater than that which they experienced when first laying the foundation of the temple about twenty years previously. (Ezra 3:8-13) They presented hundreds of inaugural sacrifices on the temple altar. They also appointed the priests and their assistants, the Levites, to their service work and positions, according to what was prescribed in the book of Moses.

"And the former exiles proceeded to hold the passover on the fourteenth day of the first month. . . . And they went on to hold the festival of unfermented cakes seven days with rejoicing; for Jehovah caused them to rejoice, and he had turned the heart of the king of Assyria [King Darius I, as successor to the territory of the former Assyrian Empire] around toward them to strengthen their hands in the work of the house of the true God, the God of Israel." (Ezra 6:16-22) His worship at Jerusalem was now fully restored.


* Since Darius I did not establish himself in Babylon until defeating the rebel Nebuchadnezzar III in December of 522 and shortly afterward capturing and killing him in Babylon, the year 522 B.C. may be viewed as the accession year of King Darius I. Since the regnal year of a Persian king began in the spring month of Nisan, the first regnal year of King Darius I would begin in the spring of 521 B.C., as presented in Babylonian Chronology 626 B.C.-A.D. 75 (page 28), by Parker and Dubberstein. In that case the sixth regnal year of King Darius I began April 11-12, 516 B.C., and continued to the end of the twelfth lunar month (Adar) of his sixth year, or to the end of March of 515 B.C. On this basis, the rebuilding of the temple was completed by Zerubbabel on March 5-6 of 515 B.C.
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REBUILDING THE CITY WALLS

About this time there was born a Greek who was to play an important part in checking the expansion of the Persian Empire westward into Europe. He was Themistocles, who was born at Athens, Greece, about the year 514 B.C. When Themistocles was about twenty-four years old, or in 490 B.C., King Darius ordered a second Persian invasion of Greece. In Daniel 11:2 King Darius I is the third Persian king prophetically spoken of as due to stand up: "Look! There will yet be three kings standing up for Persia, and the fourth one will amass greater riches than all others. And as soon as he has become strong in his riches, he will rouse up everything against the kingdom of Greece." But at Marathon, Greece, the far-outnumbered Athenians met the Persians in battle and defeated them. In this victorious battle the Athenian Themistocles may have been strategos or general of his tribe. Before King Darius I could finish his preparations to invade Greece a third time, he died, in 486 B.C.

Then the fourth Persian king foretold in Daniel 11:2 arose, as successor to his father, Darius I. He set out to execute the plan of his father to conquer Greece.* In some modern Bible translations his name is mentioned in the book of Esther, as, for instance, in Esther 1:1-3: "Now in the days of Xerxes — that is, the Xerxes who reigned from India even to Ethiopia, over a hundred and twenty-seven provinces — it happened in those days when King Xerxes sat on his royal throne, which was in the castle at Shushan, in the third year of his reign, that he made a feast for all his princes and his servants." (AT; Mo) In other Bible translations the name of the Persian king is rendered according to the Hebrew as Ahasuerus.† If this Ahasuerus is Xerxes, he


* See pages 224, 225 of the book "Your Will Be Done on Earth," published by the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania.
† Identified with Artaxerxes Longimanus by Josephus, the Greek Septuagint and apocryphal additions to the book of Esther.
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began to reign in December, 486 B.C., and, according to the Bible book, he married the beautiful Jewish virgin named Esther or Hadassah, the cousin of Mordecai, a Benjaminite.

This was the Esther who prevailed upon King Xerxes I of Persia to decree to the Jews throughout the Persian Empire the right to defend themselves against being massacred by their enemies on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month (Adar) of the twelfth year of Xerxes' reign. (Esther 3:7, 13; 9:1-17) Queen Esther's cousin Mordecai was then acting as prime minister of Xerxes, and he established for the Jews the celebrating of the memorial festival of Purim (or, of Lots) on the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the twelfth lunar month, Adar (February/March). Since this deliverance of the Jews throughout the Persian Empire occurred in the last month of the twelfth year of Xerxes' reign, he must have entered into his thirteenth year of his reign and thus survived into 474 B.C., for here is what followed the deliverance of the Jews:


The command of Esther also confirmed these matters of Purim; and it was written in a book. Now King Xerxes laid a tribute on the land and the coast-lands of the sea. All the acts of his power and of his might, and the full account of the greatness of Mordecai to which the king advanced him, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Media and Persia? For Mordecai, the Jew, was next in rank to King Xerxes, and great among the Jews, and a favorite with the mass of his fellow-countrymen; for he sought the good of his people and voiced the welfare of his entire race. — Esther 9:32 to 10:3. AT.


However, since this deliverance of the Jews took place in the month Adar of Xerxes' twelfth year, it took place after his unsuccessful effort to conquer the land of Greece. In preparation for the Persian invasion, the third, the Greek city of Athens acted under the persuasion of the general and statesman Themistocles and built a fleet of about one hundred and eighty war-

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ships, triremes. Early in 480 B.C. the tremendous Persian army crossed the Hellespont (today called the Dardanelles) into Europe. Xerxes' fleet of more than a thousand ships acted as a cover as his army advanced down the east coast of Greece. At the famous pass of Thermopylae they met with a temporary but costly check. As they advanced upon Athens, Themistocles persuaded the Athenians to abandon the city to the Persians and those able to bear arms to take to the ships. The Athenians took refuge on the island of Salamis, and the Greek fleet withdrew to the Bay of Salamis. By his tactics Themistocles brought about the sea battle with the Persian fleet in the narrow strait between Salamis and the Grecian mainland.

As Xerxes watched from a hilltop, he saw his mighty fleet defeated by the valiant Greeks, more than half of his ships being destroyed. So he was forced to retire from Greece. The following year the Persian army that had been left behind under one of its ablest generals was defeated at Plataea, about twenty-five miles northwest of Athens. On that same day the remnant of the Persian fleet that had escaped from Salamis was destroyed near the promontory of Mycale in Asia Minor. Thus the Persians were expelled from European Greece and never returned. This check of Xerxes' plans for expanding the Fourth World Power deep into Europe came in the year 479 B.C., or in the eighth year of Xerxes' reign. But for another century and a half Persia kept holding world domination.

Themistocles now became the leading figure in Greece. It was due to him that Athens, which the Persian army had burned, was rebuilt and fortified with strong, defensive walls and Piraeus was made a real harbor and fortress for Athens. After this, however, Themistocles began to lose the confidence of the people. In time he was ostracized. Afterward he was accused of treasonable negotiations with the Persians, and finally he fled to Asia Minor. Now he was pro-

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claimed a traitor at Athens and his property was confiscated. But he was well received by the Persians. Of this we read:


He ... ultimately sought protection at the Persian court, where he gained high favor with the reigning monarch, Artaxerxes Longimanus. He was deeply engaged in plans for the subjugation of Greece by the Persians, which he had promised Artaxerxes to compass, when, . . . according to some accounts, he took poison; . . .  — Am1, Volume 26, page 507.


Artaxerxes had succeeded his father Xerxes I in 474 B.C., and during his reign the exiled Themistocles died in Asia Minor. In his annals or chronology Diodorus the Sicilian, a Greek historian of the first century B.C., gives the date of Themistocles' death as 471 B.C. So Themistocles had arrived in Asia Minor prior to that date, of course. On arriving there he sent a letter to King Artaxerxes and asked him for an audience. But he begged first for one year's time during which to learn to speak Persian, after which he would come and lay before Artaxerxes some plans for subduing Greece. Artaxerxes granted his request, and at the end of the said year Themistocles appeared at his court. This requires that he must have been two years in Asia before dying in 471 B.C. So he must have arrived in Asia Minor in 473 B.C. At that time Artaxerxes Longimanus was reigning, having recently succeeded Xerxes I to the throne of the Persian Empire. Under "Themistocles," the Greek biographer named Plutarch, of the first century A.D., says:


Thucydides, and Charon of Lampsacus, say that Xerxes was dead, and that Themistocles had an interview with his son, Artaxerxes; but Ephorus, Dinon, Clitarchus, Heraclides and many others, write that he came to Xerxes. The chronological tables better agree with the account of Thucydides. — c. 27.*


* The Greek historian Thucydides of Athens lived during the reign of Artaxerxes the Persian, and tells us that General Themistocles fled from his home country to Asia (Persia) when Artaxerxes had but "lately come to the throne." (See Thucydides in Book I, chapter 137.) Nepos, a Roman historian of the first century B.C., backs up Thucydides by saying: "I know that most historians have related that Themistocles went over into Asia in the reign of Xerxes, but I give credence to Thucydides in preference to others, because he, of all who have left records of that period, was nearest in point of time to Themistocles, and was of the same city. Thucydides says that he went to Artaxerxes." — Nepos, Themistocles, chapter 9.
Jerome's Eusebius places Themistocles' arrival in Asia in the fourth year of the 76th Olympiad, that is, in 473 B.C.
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On the basis of the above, Artaxerxes, who had recently come to the throne when Themistocles arrived in Asia, must have been reigning in 474 B.C., which we therefore accept as his first year.

It is very important to fix the correct date for the beginning of his reign, for during his reign the commandment went forth to restore and rebuild the city of Jerusalem, as foretold in Daniel 9:25. From the date that this commandment took effect a marked period of time followed to show the exact year in which the promised Seed of God's "woman," or the Messiah (Christ), would make his appearance on earth. The length of time till this Anointed One arrived was to be sixty-nine (7+62) weeks, symbolic weeks of seven years each, which were to be followed by an important seventieth week. The prophecy on this, as given by the angel Gabriel to Daniel, reads as follows, according to An American Translation:


" 'Seventy weeks of years are destined for your people and for your holy city, to finish the crime, to end the sin, to expiate the guilt, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to confirm prophetic vision, and to consecrate the most sacred place.' Learn, therefore, and understand: 'From the going forth of the word to restore and rebuild Jerusalem, till there comes a prince, an anointed one, there shall be seven weeks; then for sixty-two weeks it shall stay rebuilt, with its squares and streets; and at the end of the times, after the sixty-two weeks, the anointed one shall be cut off, leaving none to succeed him; the city and the sanctuary shall be destroyed along with the prince, and the end shall come in a flood, with war raging to the end; then for one week the covenant

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shall be abandoned by many, and for half of the week sacrifice and offering shall cease, while in their place there shall be a desolating abomination, till at the end the doom that is determined shall be poured out upon the desolating thing.' " — Daniel 9:24-27. — See also Dr. James Moffatt's translation.


The going forth of the word or commandment to restore and rebuild Jerusalem took place in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes. His Jewish butler named Nehemiah was the one that put this word or commandment into effect that same year. According to Nehemiah's reckoning of the lunar year, the year began with the month Tishri (which Jews today recognize as the beginning of their civil year) and ended with the month Elul as the twelfth month. The month Chislev was the third month from Tishri and fell part in November and part in December. In the lunar month of Chislev of the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes Nehemiah heard bad news about the physical state of Jerusalem in the land of Judah. He tells us:


"Now it came about in the month Chislev, in the twentieth year, that I myself happened to be in Shushan the castle. Then Hanani, one of my brothers, came in, he and other men from Judah, and I proceeded to ask about the Jews, those who had escaped, who had been left over of the captivity, and also about Jerusalem. Accordingly they said to me: 'Those left over, who have been left over from the captivity, there in the jurisdictional district, are in a very bad plight and in reproach; and the wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its very gates have been burned with fire.' . . . Now I myself happened to be cupbearer to the king." — Nehemiah 1: 1-3, 11.


Nehemiah prayed to Jehovah about the matter, desiring to be used in bringing relief to Jerusalem. His opportunity came in that same twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, in its seventh month (Nisan, according to Nehemiah's reckoning), in 455 B.C.,* for he tells us:


* On page 67 of The Time Is at Hand (1889 Edition), by C. T. Russell, we read: "The date of Nehemiah's commission is ordinarily stated to be B.C. 445. But Dr. Kale's work on chronology (pages 449 and 531) and Dr. Priestlie's treatise on the 'Harmony of the Evangelists' (pages 24-38) show this common view to be nine years short, which would give B.C. 454 as the true date of Nehemiah's commission; and with this date Daniel's prediction (Chapter 9: 25), concerning the decree to restore and to build Jerusalem, agrees."
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"And it came about in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king, that wine was before him, and I as usual took up the wine and gave it to the king. But never had I happened to be gloomy before him. So the king said to me: 'Why is your face gloomy when you yourself are not sick? This is nothing but a gloominess of heart.' At this I became very much afraid."  — Nehemiah 2:1, 2.


Nehemiah then explained the reason for his gloominess, and, after silent prayer to Jehovah God, he asked for the king to send him to rebuild Jerusalem. King Artaxerxes was agreeable to this and asked Nehemiah: "How long will your journey come to be and when will you return?" Nehemiah then told the king, with this result:


"So it seemed good before the king that he should send me, when I gave him the appointed time. And I went on to say to the king: 'If to the king it does seem good, let letters be given me to the governors beyond the River [Euphrates], that they may let me pass until I come to Judah; also a letter to Asaph the keeper of the park that belongs to the king, that he may give me trees to build with timber the gates of the Castle that belongs to the house, and for the wall of the city and for the house into which I am to enter.' So the king gave them to me, according to the good hand of my God upon me." — Nehemiah 2:3-8.


About four months after leaving Shushan the king's winter capital, Nehemiah reached Jerusalem about the beginning of the lunar month Ab (the eleventh month according to his reckoning). After three days of resting up and of conferences he inspected the city walls by night and then gave the orders to build. (Nehemiah 2:11-18) This was about the third or fourth day of Ab of 455 B.C., or about July 26-27 or 27-28, 455 B.C.,

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still in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes. There the commandment or word to restore and rebuild Jerusalem took effect.* The sixty-nine weeks of years till the coming of Messiah the Princely Leader did not begin to count before then.

According to this count the Messiah or Christ was to be brought forth in the year 29 of our Common Era, for the sixty-nine weeks of years, or 483 years, began to count in 455 B.C. and ended A.D. 29. History proves that it was in that year that John baptized Jesus from Nazareth in the Jordan River and the holy spirit descended from heaven upon Jesus to anoint him and make him the Messiah or Christ, the Anointed One. (Luke 3:1, 2, 21-23) It is very interesting to note that the year in which the sixty-nine weeks had their start began, not in the month Nisan, but in Tishri, which is the month in which Jesus was baptized and anointed.

As Daniel 9:25 had foretold, the rebuilding work was to be done "in the straits of the times," and Nehemiah and his fellow builders did experience threats and opposition from the non-Jewish people roundabout. But by faith and trust in Almighty God and by arming themselves against attack and refusing to be drawn away from the work, they built the defensive walls around Zion or Jerusalem within two months. Nehemiah 6:15 reports: "At length the wall came to completion on the twenty-fifth day of Elul [the twelfth month], in fifty-two days." Since the month Ab, which preceded Elul, has thirty days, the building work must have begun on the fourth of Ab, 455 B.C., or July 27-28, and must have ended on September 16-17, 455 B.C., still


* Volume 9 of M'Clintock and Strong's Cyclopaedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature deals with the "Seventy Weeks of Daniel's Prophecy," and on page 602, under the heading "1. The Date of the Edict," it says: "We have supposed this to be from the time of its taking effect at Jerusalem rather than from that of its nominal issue at Babylon. The difference, however (being only four months), will not seriously affect the argument."
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within the twentieth year of Artaxerxes. The foes of Jehovah's people were frustrated, and the prophecy of his Word was carried out to prove that he is true and infallible.

In Nehemiah 7:1. 2 he tells us: "And it came about that, as soon as the wall had been rebuilt, I at once set up the doors. Then there were appointed the gatekeepers and the singers and the Levites. And I went on to put in command of Jerusalem Hanani my brother and Hananiah the prince of the Castle, for he was such a trustworthy man and feared the true God more than many others."

Then the following month, which was in the twenty-first year of Artaxerxes, the Jewish remnant held the regular religious celebrations scheduled for this month of Tishri, at Jerusalem, the festival of the blowing on the trumpet on the first day, the day of the new moon, then the day of atonement on the tenth day, and, beginning on the fifteenth day, the feast of the booths or tabernacles. They had the priest Ezra, the noted copyist of God's law, with them, and so the reading of the written Word of God publicly was featured. After its reading Governor Nehemiah told the celebrators not to weep and mourn but to rejoice. "Do not feel hurt, for the joy of Jehovah is your stronghold," he said. So the festival of the booths proceeded with rejoicing, according to the Law. Indeed, the record says: "The sons of Israel had not done that way from the days of Joshua the son of Nun until that day, so that there came to be very great rejoicing. And there was a reading aloud of the book of the law of the true God day by day, from the first day until the last day; and they went on holding the festival seven days, and on the eighth day there was a solemn assembly, according to the rule." — Nehemiah 7:73 to 8:18.

The time of dedicating Jerusalem's rebuilt walls is not stated but was likely after the above religious

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celebrations. We read, several chapters later, the following: "And at the inauguration of the wall of Jerusalem they looked for the Levites, to bring them out of all their places to Jerusalem to carry on an inauguration and a rejoicing even with thanksgivings and with song, cymbals and stringed instruments and with harps." Two processions were formed to march in opposite directions on the continuous wall. "At length the two thanksgiving choirs came to a stand at the house of the true God, also," says Nehemiah, "I and half of the deputy rulers with me, and the priests . . . And the singers with Izrahiah the overseer kept making themselves heard."

Then the celebrators went to the temple on Mount Moriah and great sacrifices were joyfully offered on Jehovah's altar. "For the true God himself caused them to rejoice with great joy. And also the women and the children themselves rejoiced, so that the rejoicing of Jerusalem could be heard far away." — Nehemiah 12:27-43.

Thus the year 455 B.C., which was the twentieth year of the Persian emperor Artaxerxes Longimanus, was a marked year,* with divine favor to Zion. It de-


* With historical facts behind him the noted German scholar Ernst Wm. Hengstenberg (1802-1869) proves Dr. Henry Dodwell's date of 445 B.C. to be wrong. In his work entitled "Christology of the Old Testament," in volume 2 thereof, on page 394 (¶2), Hengstenberg says: "The difference [of opinion] concerns only the year of the commencement of the reign of Artaxerxes. Our problem is completely solved, when we have shown that this year falls in the year 474 before Christ. For then the twentieth year of Artaxerxes is the year 455 before Christ, according to the usual reckoning, ..."
When proving that Artaxerxes' reign began in 474 B.C., Hengstenberg says, on page 395: "Krueger . . . places the death of Xerxes in the year 474 or 473, and the flight of Themistocles a year later." On page 399 Hengstenberg speaks of "a fifty-one years' reign of Artaxerxes," whereas the Greek historian Ctesias, of the fifth century B.C., calculates that Artaxerxes reigned only 42 years. — See the English translation from the German by Reuel Keith, first edition, New York (1836-1839), in three volumes.
Hengstenberg gives as a possible reason for the evident mistake in Ptolemy's Canon when assigning to Xerxes a reign of 21 years, that, when Ptolemy compiled his list of kings from the record of ancient chronologers, he mistook the Greek ia for ka, which for the Greeks stand for the numerals 11 and 21 respectively.
Archbishop James Ussher, of Ireland, (1581-1656) as a chronologist, held (on page 131 of Annales Veteris et Novi Testamentorum, under "The Persian Empire," as published in 1650,) that Artaxerxes Longimanus ascended the, Persian throne in 474 B.C., but his date for this was not put in reference Bibles. The celebrated writers Vitringa (1659-1722) and Krueger (1838) agreed with Ussher in dating the accession of Artaxerxes to the Persian throne in 474 B.C.
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served to be marked so prominently, for it was the start of the sixty-nine weeks of years leading up to the arrival of the long-promised Seed of God's woman, the Messiah. — Daniel 9:25.

The inspired Hebrew Scriptures of the Holy Bible bring us only as far as the time of Governor Nehemiah, whose book bearing his name was written about the year 443 B.C. during the long reign of Artaxerxes Longimanus. The final book of the Canon of Hebrew Scriptures was written by a Jew named Malachi, it being mere speculation on the part of the Jewish Talmud, the Targum and some so-called Church Fathers that he was really Ezra the priest, the copyist; for the book opens, saying: "A pronouncement: The word of Jehovah concerning Israel by means of Malachi." (Malachi 1:1) He also furnishes us a prophecy concerning Messiah's coming after a "messenger" from Jehovah precedes him. We read:


"Look! I am sending my messenger, and he must clear up a way before me. And suddenly there will come to His temple the true Lord, whom you people are seeking, and the messenger of the covenant in whom you are delighting. Look! He will certainly come," Jehovah of armies has said.

"Look! I am sending to you people Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and fear-inspiring day of Jehovah." — Malachi 3:1; 4:5.


Malachi wrote his prophetic book probably about the year 442 B.C., or during the reign of King Artaxerxes Longimanus. Then the Hebrew Scriptures close, leaving us in the midst of the world domination by the

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Persian Empire, the Fourth World Power. This was very likely because the Persian Empire began with the rule of Cyrus the Great, who brought about the fall of Babylon as a world power and who liberated Jehovah's people. As Cyrus was thus a type or prophetic picture of the promised Messiah or Christ, his empire stood undefeated as the inspired Hebrew Scriptures closed about 442 B.C.

Babylon had fallen to the Medes and Persians. Later it fell to the Macedonians (Greeks), who established the Fifth World Power. This meant also that the Persian Empire fell before this new world power. Although Bible prophecy foretold this, the actual overthrow of the Persian World Power is not reported in the Bible.

MACEDONIAN FIFTH WORLD POWER

The sixth of the Persian emperors who followed after Artaxerxes was the last, namely, Darius III. In the very year that he was crowned, the young Alexander II was crowned king of Macedonia in Europe. This was in fulfillment of Daniel's prophecy, chapter eleven, which, after foretelling the Persian attempts to conquer Greece, says: "And a mighty king will certainly stand up and rule with extensive dominion and do according to his will." — Daniel 11:3.

To earn worldly greatness for himself, Alexander set out to conquer the Persian Empire. Setting out in 333 B.C., he conquered Asia Minor, Phoenicia (including the island city of Tyre) and Egypt. After founding the new city of Alexandria in Egypt, he turned his steps northward toward the upper Tigris River. Up there at Gaugamela, not far from the decaying ruins of the former Assyrian capital Nineveh, he met the forces of Darius III. The Persians suffered defeat. King Darius fled northward and was afterward murdered by some of his own people. The Fourth World Power ceased!

Flushed with victory at Gaugamela, Alexander the Great turned south and within a few days was inside

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the Persian winter capital of Babylon. After resting his troops at Babylon he directed his efforts to subduing the rest of the Persian domain to the east, as far as India. He thus established an empire greater than any that had preceded his own. From India he was obliged to turn back westward and reached Babylon again seven years after he had left it.

Not aware of Jehovah's decree that ancient Babylon must experience an utter fall and complete ruin, Alexander was minded to make it the capital of his vast empire. At Babylon he made preparations for further campaigns; but before he could carry these out, he fell victim to malarial fever and died at Babylon in 323 B.C.

At Babylon Alexander's empire got to be divided. As he lay dead there, his generals who had fought with him to the end began to form their own plans and act on them. A division of the empire was made between them, this division being called the "Partition of Babylon." Two years later, in 321 B.C., there was a second partition made at Triparadisus, and by this the government of the satrapy of Babylonia was given to General Seleucus Nicator.

Feeling himself threatened, Seleucus fled to Egypt; but after the defeat of his enemy in 316 B.C., he returned to Babylon. From here he extended his authority over the whole eastern part of Alexander's empire as far as the Jaxartes* and Indus Rivers. He did not choose to follow the example of Alexander, who had settled at Babylon. He preferred to set up a new capital city of a decidedly Greek style. So, from the autumn of 312 on, he founded the city of Seleucia on the Tigris River, about fifty miles north of Babylon and fifteen miles south of the present-day Baghdad. He founded this new city of Seleucia with the "object of exhausting Babylon."


* The modern Syr or Syr Darya River, flowing into the Aral Sea, Central Asia.
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Of course, the Chaldean priests did not like this. But the new city became very populous and wealthy. In 116 (A.D.) it was burned by Roman Emperor Trajan. A few years later it was completely destroyed with its inhabitants by the Romans under General Lucius Verus, to end any Greek rule in Babylonia.

From the time that the new capital was founded at Seleucia, Babylon and other Babylonian cities began to decay to mere villages. In the second century B.C. the great conquests by the Parthian king, Mithradates I, began, and about 140 B.C. Babylonia became subject to the Parthians. By 129 B.C. the rule exercised by the successors of Seleucus Nicator in the East came to an end. The Parthians extended their empire from the Euphrates River eastward to the frontier of India and the Oxus (Amy Darya) River, territory that was formerly held by the Seleucid rulers.

In overpowering and displacing the Grecian or Fifth World Power, the Romans unavoidably came into conflict with the Parthians. For nearly three centuries the Parthian Empire was the rival of the Roman Empire, the Sixth World Power. The Encyclopedia Americana, Volume 21, page 353b, says: "No Roman army won a decisive victory over them until 115 A.D. in the reign of Trajan. Even then Rome gained no permanent footing in the Parthian empire. In 217 at Nisibis a battle was fought which gave neither side the victory and assured peace." (Edition of 1929) In the Mesopotamian valley Emperor Trajan held onto the upper part, not including Babylon. A few years after the battle of Nisibis the Parthian Empire was overthrown, not by the Romans, but by revolting Persians under the lead of Artaxerxes, and in its place the dynasty of the Persian Sassanidae was established, namely, in the year 226 (A.D.).

The Parthians had an important connection with the Jews on account of the large colonies of Jews in Mesopotamia. The Parthians even interfered in the affairs

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of the province of Judea and once made it a vassal state. During the reign of the Parthian king, Artabanus III, from 16 to 42 (A.D.), there occurred a terrible massacre of more than fifty thousand Jewish colonists in Mesopotamia, as is reported by the Jewish historian Josephus, in his Antiquities of the Jews, Book 18, chapter 9, paragraphs 7-9.

According to the report of Acts 2:5-11. on the Jewish festival day of Pentecost in the year 33 (A.D.), among those present at Jerusalem for the celebration there were Jews and proselytes from the "Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and the inhabitants of Mesopotamia," in other words, people from the Parthian Empire. These were among the thousands who heard Peter and the other Christian apostles preach and who were baptized as converts to Christianity. Of course, when these returned to Mesopotamia and other parts of the Parthian Empire, they carried the Christian faith back with them.

It appears that the city of Babylon in lower Mesopotamia kept up some sort of existence down into the era of Christianity. In proof of this, Josephus tells of the actions of Herod the Great, who reigned in Jerusalem from 37 B.C. till shortly after Jesus Christ was born at Bethlehem. A certain Jewish priest named Hyrcanus had been captured by the Parthians and carried away to their country. Says Josephus in his Antiquities, Book 15, chapter 2, paragraph 2:


But when Hyrcanus was brought into Parthia, the king Phraates treated him after a very gentle manner; as having already learned of what an illustrious family he was. On which account he set him free from his bonds; and gave him a habitation at Babylon, where there were Jews in great numbers. The Jews honoured Hyrcanus as their high-priest, and king; as did all the Jewish nation that dwelt as far as Euphrates.


King Herod successfully arranged for the king of Parthia to restore priest Hyrcanus to Judea, Herod's dominion. However, King Herod did not bestow the

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Jewish high-priesthood upon Hyrcanus. "For," as paragraph 4 tells us, "being cautious how he made any illustrious person the high-priest of God, he sent for an obscure priest out of Babylon, whose name was Ananelus, and bestowed the high-priesthood upon him."* Later King Herod took this office from Ananelus of Babylon and gave it to Aristobulus, a young priest.

It is evident that there were a number of Jewish settlements in Babylonia at the opening of the Christian Era. After the Romans destroyed Jerusalem A.D. 70, these Babylonian settlements became influential among the Diaspora, the dispersed Jews outside of Palestine. The Jewish rabbis in Babylonia had become more celebrated than those of the Holy Land, than even those of Jerusalem itself. Babylonian Jews considered themselves to be of purer racial extraction than the Jews of Palestine, especially after Jerusalem fell. Schools that gained renown were established in Babylonia, and there was a great output of rabbinical literature from there. As a consequence two Jewish Talmuds were developed, the Babylonian and the Jerusalem or Palestinian.

In spite of these continued activities at and about Babylon, the prophetic word of Jehovah God against Babylon had to be fulfilled finally to the letter. The city had to become a ruin uninhabitable by man, an area shunned by the superstitious. It did; and Eusebius Jerome, famous translator of the Bible into Latin, went to Palestine in the year 386 (A.D.), to labor and to die


* Quoted from the translation from the Greek by William Whiston. M.A., as revised by Samuel Burder, A.M., Boston edition of 1840 (Volume I).
As to the existence of Babylon in the Christian Era, it is interesting to note the map (Plate XIII) on page 89 of The Westminster Historical Atlas of the Bible, edition of 1956, the map being entitled "The Roman World at the Birth of Jesus." It shows the city of Babylon on the Euphrates River and outside the Roman Empire. According to cuneiform texts, the temple of Bel in Babylon continued existing at least till A.D. 75, or until after the Christian apostle Peter had been there. — 1 Peter 5:13.
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there. He reported that, in his time, Babylon was quite in ruins and that its walls served only to enclose a park or forest for the Persian monarch to hunt in. Eventually the locality became utterly deserted by mankind. In 1811 Claudius J. Rich, the English traveler, found no traces of Babylon's vast walls.* Says the Cyclopaedia, by M'Clintock and Strong, Volume I (published in the year 1891), page 596a:


More thorough destruction than that which has overtaken Babylon cannot well be conceived. Rich was unable to discover any traces of its vast walls, and even its site has been a subject of dispute. "On its ruins," says he, "there is not a single tree growing, except an old one," which only serves to make the desolation more apparent. Ruins like those of Babylon, composed of rubbish impregnated with nitre, cannot be cultivated.


Babylon Halt signInterest in the historical ruins in the Middle East, and particularly in Babylon, sharpened itself in the early part of the nineteenth century. With archaeological skill its ruins began to be dug up in 1899. In these ruins may be seen the mute evidences of the city's former glory. Today, in the year of publishing this book, the railway from Baghdad to Basra lies only a few feet away from the hill called Babil. A wooden signboard displays the words in English and Arabic "Babylon Halt. Trains stop here to pick up passengers." It is no place for habitation, just a place for tourists to halt and inspect the ruins and then to be picked up later for them to travel onward and away.


* See Narrative of a Journey to the Site of Babylon in 1811, by C. J. Rich, published in England in 1815. After the publication of this, Rich made a second excursion to Babylon and did other extensive traveling. He died in 1821.
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Indeed, how Babylon has fallen! As the scroll that Seraiah hurled with a stone tied to it into the midst of the Euphrates River sank beneath its waters, so ancient Babylon sank into oblivion. (Jeremiah 51:59-64) What a historical portent this is of the ruin and destruction that are shortly to come upon Babylon the Great of modern times!



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