(Ezra 6:2), called Ecbatana by classical writers, the capital of
northern Media. Here was the palace which was the residence of
the old Median monarchs, and of Cyrus and Cambyses. In the time
of Ezra, the Persian kings resided usually at Susa of Babylon.
But Cyrus held his court at Achmetha; and Ezra, writing a
century after, correctly mentions the place where the decree of
Cyrus was found.
(Heb. Ko'resh), the celebrated "King of Persia" (Elam) who was
conqueror of Babylon, and issued the decree of liberation to the
Jews (Ezra 1:1, 2). He was the son of Cambyses, the prince of
Persia, and was born about B.C. 599. In the year B.C. 559 he
became king of Persia, the kingdom of Media being added to it
partly by conquest. Cyrus was a great military leader, bent on
universal conquest. Babylon fell before his army (B.C. 538) on
the night of Belshazzar's feast (Dan. 5:30), and then the
ancient dominion of Assyria was also added to his empire (cf.,
"Go up, O Elam", Isa.21:2).
Hitherto the great kings of the earth had only oppressed the
Jews. Cyrus was to them as a "shepherd" (Isa. 44:28; 45:1). God
employed him in doing service to his ancient people. He may
posibly have gained, through contact with the Jews, some
knowledge of their religion.
The "first year of Cyrus" (Ezra 1:1) is not the year of his
elevation to power over the Medes, nor over the Persians, nor
the year of the fall of Babylon, but the year succeeding the two
years during which "Darius the Mede" was viceroy in Babylon
after its fall. At this time only (B.C. 536) Cyrus became actual
king over Israel, which became a part of his Babylonian
empire. The edict of Cyrus for the rebuilding of Jerusalem
marked a great epoch in the history of the Jewish people (2 Chr.
36:22, 23; Ezra 1:1-4; 4:3; 5:13-17; 6:3-5).
This decree was discovered "at Achmetha [R.V. marg.,
"Ecbatana"], in the palace that is in the province of the Medes"
(Ezra 6:2). A chronicle drawn up just after the conquest of
Babylonia by Cyrus, gives the history of the reign of Nabonidus
(Nabunahid), the last king of Babylon, and of the fall of the
Babylonian empire. In B.C. 538 there was a revolt in Southern
Babylonia, while the army of Cyrus entered the country from the
north. In June the Babylonian army was completely defeated at
Opis, and immediately afterwards Sippara opened its gates to the
conqueror. Gobryas (Ugbaru), the governor of Kurdistan, was then
sent to Babylon, which surrendered "without fighting," and the
daily services in the temples continued without a break. In
October, Cyrus himself arrived, and proclaimed a general
amnesty, which was communicated by Gobryas to "all the province
of Babylon," of which he had been made governor. Meanwhile,
Nabonidus, who had concealed himself, was captured, but treated
honourably; and when his wife died, Cambyses, the son of Cyrus,
conducted the funeral. Cyrus now assumed the title of "king of
Babylon," claimed to be the descendant of the ancient kings, and
made rich offerings to the temples. At the same time he allowed
the foreign populations who had been deported to Babylonia to
return to their old homes, carrying with them the images of
their gods. Among these populations were the Jews, who, as they
had no images, took with them the sacred vessels of the temple.
a mallet or heavy war-club. Applied metaphorically (Jer. 51:20)
to Cyrus, God's instrument in destroying Babylon.
given by Mithra, or dedicated to Mithra, i.e., the sun, the
Hebrew form of the Greek name Mithridates. (1.) The "treasurer"
of King Cyrus (Ezra 1:8).
(2.) Ezra 4:7, a Persian officer in Samaria.
the holder or supporter, the name of several Persian kings. (1.)
Darius the Mede (Dan. 11:1), "the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed
of the Medes" (9:1). On the death of Belshazzar the Chaldean he
"received the kingdom" of Babylon as viceroy from Cyrus. During
his brief reign (B.C. 538-536) Daniel was promoted to the
highest dignity (Dan. 6:1, 2); but on account of the malice of
his enemies he was cast into the den of lions. After his
miraculous escape, a decree was issued by Darius enjoining
"reverence for the God of Daniel" (6:26). This king was probably
the "Astyages" of the Greek historians. Nothing can, however, be
with certainty affirmed regarding him. Some are of opinion that
the name "Darius" is simply a name of office, equivalent to
"governor," and that the "Gobryas" of the inscriptions was the
person intended by the name.
(2.) Darius, king of Persia, was the son of Hystaspes, of the
royal family of the Achaemenidae. He did not immediately succeed
Cyrus on the throne. There were two intermediate kings, viz.,
Cambyses (the Ahasuerus of Ezra), the son of Cyrus, who reigned
from B.C. 529-522, and was succeeded by a usurper named Smerdis,
who occupied the throne only ten months, and was succeeded by
this Darius (B.C. 521-486). Smerdis was a Margian, and therefore
had no sympathy with Cyrus and Cambyses in the manner in which
they had treated the Jews. He issued a decree prohibiting the
restoration of the temple and of Jerusalem (Ezra 4:17-22). But
soon after his death and the accession of Darius, the Jews
resumed their work, thinking that the edict of Smerdis would be
now null and void, as Darius was in known harmony with the
religious policy of Cyrus. The enemies of the Jews lost no time
in bringing the matter under the notice of Darius, who caused
search to be made for the decree of Cyrus (q.v.). It was not
found at Babylon, but at Achmetha (Ezra 6:2); and Darius
forthwith issued a new decree, giving the Jews full liberty to
prosecute their work, at the same time requiring the Syrian
satrap and his subordinates to give them all needed help. It was
with the army of this king that the Greeks fought the famous
battle of Marathon (B.C. 490). During his reign the Jews enjoyed
much peace and prosperity. He was succeeded by Ahasuerus, known
to the Greeks as Xerxes, who reigned for twenty-one years.
(3.) Darius the Persian (Neh. 12:22) was probably the Darius
II. (Ochus or Nothus) of profane history, the son of Artaxerxes
Longimanus, who was the son and successor of Ahasuerus (Xerxes).
There are some, however, who think that the king here meant was
Darius III. (Codomannus), the antagonist of Alexander the Great
Heb. Madai, which is rendered in the Authorized Version (1)
"Madai," Gen. 10:2; (2) "Medes," 2 Kings 17:6; 18:11; (3)
"Media," Esther 1:3; 10:2; Isa. 21:2; Dan. 8:20; (4) "Mede,"
only in Dan. 11:1.
We first hear of this people in the Assyrian cuneiform
records, under the name of Amada, about B.C. 840. They appear to
have been a branch of the Aryans, who came from the east bank of
the Indus, and were probably the predominant race for a while in
the Mesopotamian valley. They consisted for three or four
centuries of a number of tribes, each ruled by its own chief,
who at length were brought under the Assyrian yoke (2 Kings
17:6). From this subjection they achieved deliverance, and
formed themselves into an empire under Cyaxares (B.C. 633). This
monarch entered into an alliance with the king of Babylon, and
invaded Assyria, capturing and destroying the city of Nineveh
(B.C. 625), thus putting an end to the Assyrian monarchy (Nah.
1:8; 2:5,6; 3:13, 14).
Media now rose to a place of great power, vastly extending its
boundaries. But it did not long exist as an independent kingdom.
It rose with Cyaxares, its first king, and it passed away with
him; for during the reign of his son and successor Astyages, the
Persians waged war against the Medes and conquered them, the two
nations being united under one monarch, Cyrus the Persian (B.C.
The "cities of the Medes" are first mentioned in connection
with the deportation of the Israelites on the destruction of
Samaria (2 Kings 17:6; 18:11). Soon afterwards Isaiah (13:17;
21:2) speaks of the part taken by the Medes in the destruction
of Babylon (compare Jer. 51:11, 28). Daniel gives an account of
the reign of Darius the Mede, who was made viceroy by Cyrus
(Dan. 6:1-28). The decree of Cyrus, Ezra informs us (6:2-5), was
found in "the palace that is in the province of the Medes,"
Achmetha or Ecbatana of the Greeks, which is the only Median
city mentioned in Scripture.
Ezra, Book of
This book is the record of events occurring at the close of the
Babylonian exile. It was at one time included in Nehemiah, the
Jews regarding them as one volume. The two are still
distinguished in the Vulgate version as I. and II. Esdras. It
consists of two principal divisions:
(1.) The history of the first return of exiles, in the first
year of Cyrus (B.C. 536), till the completion and dedication of
the new temple, in the sixth year of Darius Hystapes (B.C. 515),
ch. 1-6. From the close of the sixth to the opening of the
seventh chapter there is a blank in the history of about sixty
(2.) The history of the second return under Ezra, in the
seventh year of Artaxerxes Longimanus, and of the events that
took place at Jerusalem after Ezra's arrival there (7-10).
The book thus contains memorabilia connected with the Jews,
from the decree of Cyrus (B.C. 536) to the reformation by Ezra
(B.C. 456), extending over a period of about eighty years.
There is no quotation from this book in the New Testament, but
there never has been any doubt about its being canonical. Ezra
was probably the author of this book, at least of the greater
part of it (compare 7:27, 28; 8:1, etc.), as he was also of the
Books of Chronicles, the close of which forms the opening
passage of Ezra.
an ancient empire, extending from the Indus to Thrace, and from
the Caspian Sea to the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf. The
Persians were originally a Medic tribe which settled in Persia,
on the eastern side of the Persian Gulf. They were Aryans, their
language belonging to the eastern division of the Indo-European
group. One of their chiefs, Teispes, conquered Elam in the time
of the decay of the Assyrian Empire, and established himself in
the district of Anzan. His descendants branched off into two
lines, one line ruling in Anzan, while the other remained in
Persia. Cyrus II., king of Anzan, finally united the divided
power, conquered Media, Lydia, and Babylonia, and carried his
arms into the far East. His son, Cambyses, added Egypt to the
empire, which, however, fell to pieces after his death. It was
reconquered and thoroughly organized by Darius, the son of
Hystaspes, whose dominions extended from India to the Danube.
the seed of Babylon, the son of Salathiel or Shealtiel (Hag.
1:1; Zorobabel, Matt. 1:12); called also the son of Pedaiah (1
Chr. 3:17-19), i.e., according to a frequent usage of the word
"son;" the grandson or the nephew of Salathiel. He is also known
by the Persian name of Sheshbazzar (Ezra 1:8, 11). In the first
year of Cyrus, king of Persia, he led the first band of Jews,
numbering 42,360 (Ezra 2:64), exclusive of a large number of
servants, who returned from captivity at the close of the
seventy years. In the second year after the Return, he erected
an altar and laid the foundation of the temple on the ruins of
that which had been destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar (3:8-13; ch.
4-6). All through the work he occupied a prominent place,
inasmuch as he was a descendant of the royal line of David.
There are three kings designated by this name in Scripture. (1.)
The father of Darius the Mede, mentioned in Dan. 9:1. This was
probably the Cyaxares I. known by this name in profane history,
the king of Media and the conqueror of Nineveh.
(2.) The king mentioned in Ezra 4:6, probably the Cambyses of
profane history, the son and successor of Cyrus (B.C. 529).
(3.) The son of Darius Hystaspes, the king named in the Book
of Esther. He ruled over the kingdoms of Persia, Media, and
Babylonia, "from India to Ethiopia." This was in all probability
the Xerxes of profane history, who succeeded his father Darius
(B.C. 485). In the LXX. version of the Book of Esther the name
Artaxerxes occurs for Ahasuerus. He reigned for twenty-one years
(B.C. 486-465). He invaded Greece with an army, it is said, of
more than 2,000,000 soldiers, only 5,000 of whom returned with
him. Leonidas, with his famous 300, arrested his progress at the
Pass of Thermopylae, and then he was defeated disastrously by
Themistocles at Salamis. It was after his return from this
invasion that Esther was chosen as his queen.
Of uncoined money the first notice we have is in the history of
Abraham (Gen. 13:2; 20:16; 24:35). Next, this word is used in
connection with the purchase of the cave of Machpelah (23:16),
and again in connection with Jacob's purchase of a field at
Shalem (Gen. 33:18, 19) for "an hundred pieces of money"=an
hundred Hebrew kesitahs (q.v.), i.e., probably pieces of money,
as is supposed, bearing the figure of a lamb.
The history of Joseph affords evidence of the constant use of
money, silver of a fixed weight. This appears also in all the
subsequent history of the Jewish people, in all their internal
as well as foreign transactions. There were in common use in
trade silver pieces of a definite weight, shekels, half-shekels,
and quarter-shekels. But these were not properly coins, which
are pieces of metal authoritatively issued, and bearing a stamp.
Of the use of coined money we have no early notice among the
Hebrews. The first mentioned is of Persian coinage, the daric
(Ezra 2:69; Neh. 7:70) and the 'adarkon (Ezra 8:27). The daric
(q.v.) was a gold piece current in Israel in the time of
Cyrus. As long as the Jews, after the Exile, lived under Persian
rule, they used Persian coins. These gave place to Greek coins
when Israel came under the dominion of the Greeks (B.C. 331),
the coins consisting of gold, silver, and copper pieces. The
usual gold pieces were staters (q.v.), and the silver coins
tetradrachms and drachms.
In the year B.C. 140, Antiochus VII. gave permission to Simon
the Maccabee to coin Jewish money. Shekels (q.v.) were then
coined bearing the figure of the almond rod and the pot of
Nergal, protect the king! (1.) One of the "princes of the king
of Babylon who accompanied him in his last expedition against
Jerusalem" (Jer. 39:3, 13).
(2.) Another of the "princes," who bore the title of "Rabmag."
He was one of those who were sent to release Jeremiah from
prison (Jer. 39:13) by "the captain of the guard." He was a
Babylonian grandee of high rank. From profane history and the
inscriptions, we are led to conclude that he was the Neriglissar
who murdered Evil-merodach, the son of Nebuchadnezzar, and
succeeded him on the throne of Babylon (B.C. 559-556). He was
married to a daughter of Nebuchadnezzar. The ruins of a palace,
the only one on the right bank of the Euphrates, bear
inscriptions denoting that it was built by this king. He was
succeeded by his son, a mere boy, who was murdered after a reign
of some nine months by a conspiracy of the nobles, one of whom,
Nabonadius, ascended the vacant throne, and reigned for a period
of seventeen years (B.C. 555-538), at the close of which period
Babylon was taken by Cyrus. Belshazzar, who comes into notice in
connection with the taking of Babylon, was by some supposed to
have been the same as Nabonadius, who was called
Nebuchadnezzar's son (Dan. 5:11, 18, 22), because he had married
his daughter. But it is known from the inscriptions that
Nabonadius had a son called Belshazzar, who may have been his
father's associate on the throne at the time of the fall of
Babylon, and who therefore would be the grandson of
Nebuchadnezzar. The Jews had only one word, usually rendered
"father," to represent also such a relationship as that of
"grandfather" or "great-grandfather."
the Greek form of BABEL; Semitic form Babilu, meaning "The Gate
of God." In the Assyrian tablets it means "The city of the
dispersion of the tribes." The monumental list of its kings
reaches back to B.C. 2300, and includes Khammurabi, or Amraphel
(q.v.), the contemporary of Abraham. It stood on the Euphrates,
about 200 miles above its junction with the Tigris, which flowed
through its midst and divided it into two almost equal parts.
The Elamites invaded Chaldea (i.e., Lower Mesopotamia, or
Shinar, and Upper Mesopotamia, or Accad, now combined into one)
and held it in subjection. At length Khammu-rabi delivered it
from the foreign yoke, and founded the new empire of Chaldea
(q.v.), making Babylon the capital of the united kingdom. This
city gradually grew in extent and grandeur, but in process of
time it became subject to Assyria. On the fall of Nineveh (B.C.
606) it threw off the Assyrian yoke, and became the capital of
the growing Babylonian empire. Under Nebuchadnezzar it became
one of the most splendid cities of the ancient world.
After passing through various vicissitudes the city was
occupied by Cyrus, "king of Elam," B.C. 538, who issued a decree
permitting the Jews to return to their own land (Ezra 1). It
then ceased to be the capital of an empire. It was again and
again visited by hostile armies, till its inhabitants were all
driven from their homes, and the city became a complete
desolation, its very site being forgotten from among men.
On the west bank of the Euphrates, about 50 miles south of
Bagdad, there is found a series of artificial mounds of vast
extent. These are the ruins of this once famous proud city.
These ruins are principally (1) the great mound called Babil by
the Arabs. This was probably the noted Temple of Belus, which
was a pyramid about 480 feet high. (2) The Kasr (i.e., "the
palace"). This was the great palace of Nebuchadnezzar. It is
almost a square, each side of which is about 700 feet long. The
little town of Hillah, near the site of Babylon, is built almost
wholly of bricks taken from this single mound. (3) A lofty
mound, on the summit of which stands a modern tomb called Amran
ibn-Ali. This is probably the most ancient portion of the
remains of the city, and represents the ruins of the famous
hanging-gardens, or perhaps of some royal palace. The utter
desolation of the city once called "The glory of kingdoms"
(Isa.13:19) was foretold by the prophets (Isa.13:4-22; Jer.
25:12; 50:2, 3; Dan. 2:31-38).
The Babylon mentioned in 1 Pet. 5:13 was not Rome, as some
have thought, but the literal city of Babylon, which was
inhabited by many Jews at the time Peter wrote.
In Rev. 14:8; 16:19; 17:5; and 18:2, "Babylon" is supposed to
mean Rome, not considered as pagan, but as the prolongation of
the ancient power in the papal form. Rome, pagan and papal, is
regarded as one power. "The literal Babylon was the beginner and
supporter of tyranny and idolatry...This city and its whole
empire were taken by the Persians under Cyrus; the Persians were
subdued by the Macedonians, and the Macedonians by the Romans;
so that Rome succeeded to the power of old Babylon. And it was
her method to adopt the worship of the false deities she had
conquered; so that by her own act she became the heiress and
successor of all the Babylonian idolatry, and of all that was
introduced into it by the immediate successors of Babylon, and
consequently of all the idolatry of the earth." Rome, or
"mystical Babylon," is "that great city which reigneth over the
kings of the earth" (17:18).
the queen of Ahasuerus, and heroine of the book that bears her
name. She was a Jewess named Hadas'sah (the myrtle), but when
she entered the royal harem she received the name by which she
henceforth became known (Esther 2:7). It is a Syro-Arabian
modification of the Persian word satarah, which means a star.
She was the daughter of Abihail, a Benjamite. Her family did not
avail themselves of the permission granted by Cyrus to the
exiles to return to Jerusalem; and she resided with her cousin
Mordecai, who held some office in the household of the Persian
king at "Shushan in the palace." Ahasuerus having divorced
Vashti, chose Esther to be his wife. Soon after this he gave
Haman the Agagite, his prime minister, power and authority to
kill and extirpate all the Jews throughout the Persian empire.
By the interposition of Esther this terrible catastrophe was
averted. Haman was hanged on the gallows he had intended for
Mordecai (Esther 7); and the Jews established an annual feast,
the feast of Purim (q.v.), in memory of their wonderful
deliverance. This took place about fifty-two years after the
Return, the year of the great battles of Plataea and Mycale
Esther appears in the Bible as a "woman of deep piety, faith,
courage, patriotism, and caution, combined with resolution; a
dutiful daughter to her adopted father, docile and obedient to
his counsels, and anxious to share the king's favour with him
for the good of the Jewish people. There must have been a
singular grace and charm in her aspect and manners, since 'she
obtained favour in the sight of all them that looked upon her'
(Esther 2:15). That she was raised up as an instrument in the
hand of God to avert the destruction of the Jewish people, and
to afford them protection and forward their wealth and peace in
their captivity, is also manifest from the Scripture account."
Temple, the Second
After the return from captivity, under Zerubbabel (q.v.) and the
high priest Jeshua, arrangements were almost immediately made to
reorganize the long-desolated kingdom. The body of pilgrims,
forming a band of 42,360, including children, having completed
the long and dreary journey of some four months, from the banks
of the Euphrates to Jerusalem, were animated in all their
proceeding by a strong religious impulse, and therefore one of
their first cares was to restore their ancient worship by
rebuilding the temple. On the invitation of Zerubbabel, the
governor, who showed them a remarkable example of liberality by
contributing personally 1,000 golden darics (probably about
$6,000), besides other gifts, the people with great enthusiasm
poured their gifts into the sacred treasury (Ezra 2). First they
erected and dedicated the altar of Jehovah on the exact spot
where it had formerly stood, and they then cleared away the
charred heaps of debris which occupied the site of the old
temple; and in the second month of the second year (B.C. 535),
amid great public excitement and rejoicing (Ps. 116; 117; 118),
the foundations of the second temple were laid. A wide interest
was felt in this great movement, although it was regarded with
mingled feelings by the spectators (Hag. 2:3; Zech. 4:10). The
Samaritans made proposals for a co-operation in the work.
Zerubbabel and Jeshua and the elders, however, declined all such
cooperation: Judah must build the temple without help.
Immediately evil reports were spread regarding the Jews. The
Samaritans sought to "frustrate their purpose" (Ezra 4:5), and
sent messengers to Ecbatana and Susa, with the result that the
work was suspended. Seven years after this Cyrus died
ingloriously, having killed himself in Syria when on his way
back from Egypt to the east, and was succeeded by his son
Cambyses (B.C. 529-522), on whose death the "false Smerdis," an
imposter, occupied the throne for some seven or eight months,
and then Darius Hystaspes became king (B.C. 522). In the second
year of this monarch the work of rebuilding the temple was
resumed and carried forward to its completion (Ezra 5: 6-17;
6:1-15), under the stimulus of the earnest counsels and
admonitions of the prophets Haggai and Zechariah. It was ready
for consecration in the spring of B.C. 516, twenty years after
the return from captivity.
This second temple had not the ark, the Urim and Thummim, the
holy oil, the sacred fire, the tables of stone, the pot of
manna, and Aaron's rod. As in the tabernacle, there was in it
only one golden lamp for the holy place, one table of shewbread,
and the incense altar, with golden censers, and many of the
vessels of gold that had belonged to Solomon's temple that had
been carried to Babylon but restored by Cyrus (Ezra 1:7-11).
This second temple also differed from the first in that, while
in the latter there were numerous "trees planted in the courts
of the Lord," there were none in the former. The second temple
also had for the first time a space, being a part of the outer
court, provided for proselytes who were worshippers of Jehovah,
although not subject to the laws of Judaism.
The temple, when completed, was consecrated amid great
rejoicings on the part of all the people (Ezra 6:16), although
there were not wanting outward evidences that the Jews were no
longer an independent people, but were subject to a foreign
Hag. 2:9 is rightly rendered in the Revised Version, "The
latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former,"
instead of, "The glory of this latter house," etc., in the
Authorized Version. The temple, during the different periods of
its existence, is regarded as but one house, the one only house
of God (compare 2:3). The glory here predicted is spiritual glory
and not material splendour. "Christ himself, present bodily in
the temple on Mount Zion during his life on earth, present
spiritually in the Church now, present in the holy city, the
heavenly Jerusalem, of which he is the temple, calling forth
spiritual worship and devotion is the glory here predicted"
God is my judge, or judge of God. (1.) David's second son, "born
unto him in Hebron, of Abigail the Carmelitess" (1 Chr. 3:1). He
is called also Chileab (2 Sam. 3:3).
(2.) One of the four great prophets, although he is not once
spoken of in the Old Testament as a prophet. His life and
prophecies are recorded in the Book of Daniel. He was descended
from one of the noble families of Judah (Dan. 1:3), and was
probably born in Jerusalem about B.C. 623, during the reign of
Josiah. At the first deportation of the Jews by Nebuchadnezzar
(the kingdom of Israel had come to an end nearly a century
before), or immediately after his victory over the Egyptians at
the second battle of Carchemish, in the fourth year of the reign
of Jehoiakim (B.C. 606), Daniel and other three noble youths
were carried off to Babylon, along with part of the vessels of
the temple. There he was obliged to enter into the service of
the king of Babylon, and in accordance with the custom of the
age received the Chaldean name of Belteshazzar, i.e., "prince of
Bel," or "Bel protect the king!" His residence in Babylon was
very probably in the palace of Nebuchadnezzar, now identified
with a mass of shapeless mounds called the Kasr, on the right
bank of the river.
His training in the schools of the wise men in Babylon (Dan.
1:4) was to fit him for service to the empire. He was
distinguished during this period for his piety and his stict
observance of the Mosaic law (1:8-16), and gained the confidence
and esteem of those who were over him. His habit of attention
gained during his education in Jerusalem enabled him soon to
master the wisdom and learning of the Chaldeans, and even to
excel his compeers.
At the close of his three years of discipline and training in
the royal schools, Daniel was distinguished for his proficiency
in the "wisdom" of his day, and was brought out into public
life. He soon became known for his skill in the interpretation
of dreams (1:17; 2:14), and rose to the rank of governor of the
province of Babylon, and became "chief of the governors" (Chald.
Rab-signin) over all the wise men of Babylon. He made known and
also interpreted Nebuchadnezzar's dream; and many years
afterwards, when he was now an old man, amid the alarm and
consternation of the terrible night of Belshazzar's impious
feast, he was called in at the instance of the queen-mother
(perhaps Nitocris, the daughter of Nebuchadnezzar) to interpret
the mysterious handwriting on the wall. He was rewarded with a
purple robe and elevation to the rank of "third ruler." The
place of "second ruler" was held by Belshazzar as associated
with his father, Nabonidus, on the throne (5:16). Daniel
interpreted the handwriting, and "in that night was Belshazzar
the king of the Chaldeans slain."
After the taking of Babylon, Cyrus, who was now master of all
Asia from India to the Dardanelles, placed Darius (q.v.), a
Median prince, on the throne, during the two years of whose
reign Daniel held the office of first of the "three presidents"
of the empire, and was thus practically at the head of affairs,
no doubt interesting himself in the prospects of the captive
Jews (Dan. 9), whom he had at last the happiness of seeing
restored to their own land, although he did not return with
them, but remained still in Babylon. His fidelity to God exposed
him to persecution, and he was cast into a den of lions, but was
miraculously delivered; after which Darius issued a decree
enjoining reverence for "the God of Daniel" (6:26). He
"prospered in the reign of Darius, and in the reign of Cyrus the
Persian," whom he probably greatly influenced in the matter of
the decree which put an end to the Captivity (B.C. 536).
He had a series of prophetic visions vouch-safed to him which
opened up the prospect of a glorious future for the people of
God, and must have imparted peace and gladness to his spirit in
his old age as he waited on at his post till the "end of the
days." The time and circumstances of his death are not recorded.
He probably died at Susa, about eighty-five years of age.
Ezekiel, with whom he was contemporary, mentions him as a
pattern of righteousness (14:14, 20) and wisdom (28:3). (See
Kings, The Books of
The two books of Kings formed originally but one book in the
Hebrew Scriptures. The present division into two books was first
made by the LXX., which now, with the Vulgate, numbers them as
the third and fourth books of Kings, the two books of Samuel
being the first and second books of Kings.
They contain the annals of the Jewish commonwealth from the
accession of Solomon till the subjugation of the kingdom by
Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians (apparently a period of about
four hundred and fifty-three years). The books of Chronicles
(q.v.) are more comprehensive in their contents than those of
Kings. The latter synchronize with 1 Chr. 28-2 Chr. 36:21. While
in the Chronicles greater prominence is given to the priestly or
Levitical office, in the Kings greater prominence is given to
The authorship of these books is uncertain. There are some
portions of them and of Jeremiah that are almost identical,
e.g., 2 Kings 24:18-25 and Jer. 52; 39:1-10; 40:7-41:10. There
are also many undesigned coincidences between Jeremiah and Kings
(2 Kings 21-23 and Jer. 7:15; 15:4; 19:3, etc.), and events
recorded in Kings of which Jeremiah had personal knowledge.
These facts countenance in some degree the tradition that
Jeremiah was the author of the books of Kings. But the more
probable supposition is that Ezra, after the Captivity, compiled
them from documents written perhaps by David, Solomon, Nathan,
Gad, and Iddo, and that he arranged them in the order in which
they now exist.
In the threefold division of the Scriptures by the Jews, these
books are ranked among the "Prophets." They are frequently
quoted or alluded to by our Lord and his apostles (Matt. 6:29;
12:42; Luke 4:25, 26; 10:4; compare 2 Kings 4:29; Mark 1:6; compare
2 Kings 1:8; Matt. 3:4, etc.).
The sources of the narrative are referred to (1) "the book of
the acts of Solomon" (1 Kings 11:41); (2) the "book of the
chronicles of the kings of Judah" (14:29; 15:7, 23, etc.); (3)
the "book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel" (14:19;
15:31; 16:14, 20, 27, etc.).
The date of its composition was some time between B.C. 561,
the date of the last chapter (2 Kings 25), when Jehoiachin was
released from captivity by Evil-merodach, and B.C. 538, the date
of the decree of deliverance by Cyrus.
(1.) Of Israel. The kingdom of the ten tribes was successively
invaded by several Assyrian kings. Pul (q.v.) imposed a tribute
on Menahem of a thousand talents of silver (2 Kings 15:19, 20; 1
Chr. 5:26) (B.C. 762), and Tiglath-pileser, in the days of Pekah
(B.C. 738), carried away the trans-Jordanic tribes and the
inhabitants of Galilee into Assyria (2 Kings 15:29; Isa. 9:1).
Subsequently Shalmaneser invaded Israel and laid siege to
Samaria, the capital of the kingdom. During the siege he died,
and was succeeded by Sargon, who took the city, and transported
the great mass of the people into Assyria (B.C. 721), placing
them in Halah and in Habor, and in the cities of the Medes (2
Kings 17:3, 5). Samaria was never again inhabited by the
Israelites. The families thus removed were carried to distant
cities, many of them not far from the Caspian Sea, and their
place was supplied by colonists from Babylon and Cuthah, etc. (2
Kings 17:24). Thus terminated the kingdom of the ten tribes,
after a separate duration of two hundred and fifty-five years
Many speculations have been indulged in with reference to
these ten tribes. But we believe that all, except the number
that probably allied themselves with Judah and shared in their
restoration under Cyrus, are finally lost.
"Like the dew on the mountain, Like the
foam on the river,
Like the bubble on the fountain,
They are gone, and for ever."
(2.) Of Judah. In the third year of Jehoiachim, the eighteenth
king of Judah (B.C. 605), Nebuchadnezzar having overcome the
Egyptians at Carchemish, advanced to Jerusalem with a great
army. After a brief siege he took that city, and carried away
the vessels of the sanctuary to Babylon, and dedicated them in
the Temple of Belus (2 Kings 24:1; 2 Chr. 36:6, 7; Dan. 1:1, 2).
He also carried away the treasures of the king, whom he made his
vassal. At this time, from which is dated the "seventy years" of
captivity (Jer. 25; Dan. 9:1, 2), Daniel and his companions were
carried to Babylon, there to be brought up at the court and
trained in all the learning of the Chaldeans. After this, in the
fifth year of Jehoiakim, a great national fast was appointed
(Jer. 36:9), during which the king, to show his defiance, cut up
the leaves of the book of Jeremiah's prophecies as they were
read to him in his winter palace, and threw them into the fire.
In the same spirit he rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kings
24:1), who again a second time (B.C. 598) marched against
Jerusalem, and put Jehoiachim to death, placing his son
Jehoiachin on the throne in his stead. But Jehoiachin's
counsellors displeasing Nebuchadnezzar, he again a third time
turned his army against Jerusalem, and carried away to Babylon a
second detachment of Jews as captives, to the number of 10,000
(2 Kings 24:13; Jer. 24:1; 2 Chr. 36:10), among whom were the
king, with his mother and all his princes and officers, also
Ezekiel, who with many of his companions were settled on the
banks of the river Chebar (q.v.). He also carried away all the
remaining treasures of the temple and the palace, and the golden
vessels of the sanctuary.
Mattaniah, the uncle of Jehoiachin, was now made king over
what remained of the kingdom of Judah, under the name of
Zedekiah (2 Kings 24:17; 2 Chr. 36:10). After a troubled reign
of eleven years his kingdom came to an end (2 Chr. 36:11).
Nebuchadnezzar, with a powerful army, besieged Jerusalem, and
Zedekiah became a prisoner in Babylon. His eyes were put out,
and he was kept in close confinement till his death (2 Kings
25:7). The city was spoiled of all that was of value, and then
given up to the flames. The temple and palaces were consumed,
and the walls of the city were levelled with the ground (B.C.
586), and all that remained of the people, except a number of
the poorest class who were left to till the ground and dress the
vineyards, were carried away captives to Babylon. This was the
third and last deportation of Jewish captives. The land was now
utterly desolate, and was abondoned to anarchy.
In the first year of his reign as king of Babylon (B.C. 536),
Cyrus issued a decree liberating the Jewish captives, and
permitting them to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the city and
the temple (2 Chr. 36:22, 23; Ezra 1; 2). The number of the
people forming the first caravan, under Zerubbabel, amounted in
all to 42,360 (Ezra 2:64, 65), besides 7,337 men-servants and
maid-servants. A considerable number, 12,000 probably, from the
ten tribes who had been carried away into Assyria no doubt
combined with this band of liberated captives.
At a later period other bands of the Jews returned (1) under
Ezra (7:7) (B.C. 458), and (2) Nehemiah (7:66) (B.C. 445). But
the great mass of the people remained still in the land to which
they had been carried, and became a portion of the Jews of the
"dispersion" (John 7:35; 1 Pet. 1:1). The whole number of the
exiles that chose to remain was probably about six times the
number of those who returned.
(1.) Of the kingdom of Israel. In the time of Pekah,
Tiglath-pileser II. carried away captive into Assyria (2 Kings
15:29; compare Isa. 10:5, 6) a part of the inhabitants of Galilee
and of Gilead (B.C. 741).
After the destruction of Samaria (B.C. 720) by Shalmaneser and
Sargon (q.v.), there was a general deportation of the Israelites
into Mesopotamia and Media (2 Kings 17:6; 18:9; 1 Chr. 5:26).
(See ISRAEL, KINGDOM OF T0001909.)
(2.) Of the kingdom of the two tribes, the kingdom of Judah.
Nebuchadnezzar, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim (Jer. 25:1),
invaded Judah, and carried away some royal youths, including
Daniel and his companions (B.C. 606), together with the sacred
vessels of the temple (2 Chr. 36:7; Dan. 1:2). In B.C. 598 (Jer.
52:28; 2 Kings 24:12), in the beginning of Jehoiachin's reign (2
Kings 24:8), Nebuchadnezzar carried away captive 3,023 eminent
Jews, including the king (2 Chr. 36:10), with his family and
officers (2 Kings 24:12), and a large number of warriors (16),
with very many persons of note (14), and artisans (16), leaving
behind only those who were poor and helpless. This was the first
general deportation to Babylon.
In B.C. 588, after the revolt of Zedekiah (q.v.), there was a
second general deportation of Jews by Nebuchadnezzar (Jer.
52:29; 2 Kings 25:8), including 832 more of the principal men of
the kingdom. He carried away also the rest of the sacred vessels
(2 Chr. 36:18). From this period, when the temple was destroyed
(2 Kings 25:9), to the complete restoration, B.C. 517 (Ezra
6:15), is the period of the "seventy years."
In B.C. 582 occurred the last and final deportation. The
entire number Nebuchadnezzar carried captive was 4,600 heads of
families with their wives and children and dependants (Jer.
52:30; 43:5-7; 2 Chr. 36:20, etc.). Thus the exiles formed a
very considerable community in Babylon.
When Cyrus granted permission to the Jews to return to their
own land (Ezra 1:5; 7:13), only a comparatively small number at
first availed themselves of the privilege. It cannot be
questioned that many belonging to the kingdom of Israel
ultimately joined the Jews under Ezra, Zerubbabel, and Nehemiah,
and returned along with them to Jerusalem (Jer. 50:4, 5, 17-20,
Large numbers had, however, settled in the land of Babylon,
and formed numerous colonies in different parts of the kingdom.
Their descendants very probably have spread far into Eastern
lands and become absorbed in the general population. (See JUDAH,
KINGDOM OF T0002126; CAPTIVITY T0000720.)
(Gr. diaspora, "scattered," James 1:1; 1 Pet. 1:1) of the Jews.
At various times, and from the operation of divers causes, the
Jews were separated and scattered into foreign countries "to the
outmost parts of heaven" (Deut. 30:4).
(1.) Many were dispersed over Assyria, Media, Babylonia, and
Persia, descendants of those who had been transported thither by
the Exile. The ten tribes, after existing as a separate kingdom
for two hundred and fifty-five years, were carried captive (B.C.
721) by Shalmaneser (or Sargon), king of Assyria. They never
returned to their own land as a distinct people, although many
individuals from among these tribes, there can be no doubt,
joined with the bands that returned from Babylon on the
proclamation of Cyrus.
(2.) Many Jews migrated to Egypt and took up their abode
there. This migration began in the days of Solomon (2 Kings
18:21, 24; Isa. 30:7). Alexander the Great placed a large number
of Jews in Alexandria, which he had founded, and conferred on
them equal rights with the Egyptians. Ptolemy Philadelphus, it
is said, caused the Jewish Scriptures to be translated into
Greek (the work began B.C. 284), for the use of the Alexandrian
Jews. The Jews in Egypt continued for many ages to exercise a
powerful influence on the public interests of that country. From
Egypt they spread along the coast of Africa to Cyrene (Acts
2:10) and to Ethiopia (8:27).
(3.) After the time of Seleucus Nicator (B.C. 280), one of the
captains of Alexander the Great, large numbers of Jews migrated
into Syria, where they enjoyed equal rights with the
Macedonians. From Syria they found their way into Asia Minor.
Antiochus the Great, king of Syria and Asia, removed 3,000
families of Jews from Mesopotamia and Babylonia, and planted
them in Phrygia and Lydia.
(4.) From Asia Minor many Jews moved into Greece and
Macedonia, chiefly for purposes of commerce. In the apostles'
time they were found in considerable numbers in all the
From the time of Pompey the Great (B.C. 63) numbers of Jews
from Israel and Greece went to Rome, where they had a
separate quarter of the city assigned to them. Here they enjoyed
Thus were the Jews everywhere scattered abroad. This, in the
overruling providence of God, ultimately contributed in a great
degree toward opening the way for the spread of the gospel into
Dispersion, from the plain of Shinar. This was occasioned by
the confusion of tongues at Babel (Gen. 11:9). They were
scattered abroad "every one after his tongue, after their
families, in their nations" (Gen. 10:5, 20,31).
The tenth chapter of Genesis gives us an account of the
principal nations of the earth in their migrations from the
plain of Shinar, which was their common residence after the
Flood. In general, it may be said that the descendants of
Japheth were scattered over the north, those of Shem over the
central regions, and those of Ham over the extreme south. The
following table shows how the different families were dispersed:
| - Japheth
| - Gomer
| Cimmerians, Armenians
| - Magog
| Caucasians, Scythians
| - Madal
| Medes and Persian tribes
| - Javan
| - Elishah
| - Tarshish
| Etruscans, Romans
| - Chittim
| Cyprians, Macedonians
| - Dodanim
| - Tubal
| Tibareni, Tartars
| - Mechech
| Moschi, Muscovites
| - Tiras
| - Shem
| - Elam
| Persian tribes
| - Asshur
| - Arphaxad
| - Abraham
| - Isaac
| - Jacob
| - Esau
| - Ishmael
| Mingled with Arab tribes
| - Lud
| - Aram
| - Ham
| - Cush
| - Mizrain
| - Phut
| Lybians, Mauritanians
| - Canaan
| Canaanites, Phoenicians
Isaiah, The Book of
consists of prophecies delivered (Isa. 1) in the reign of Uzziah
(1-5), (2) of Jotham (6), (3) Ahaz (7-14:28), (4) the first half
of Hezekiah's reign (14:28-35), (5) the second half of
Hezekiah's reign (36-66). Thus, counting from the fourth year
before Uzziah's death (B.C. 762) to the last year of Hezekiah
(B.C. 698), Isaiah's ministry extended over a period of
sixty-four years. He may, however, have survived Hezekiah, and
may have perished in the way indicated above.
The book, as a whole, has been divided into three main parts:
(1.) The first thirty-five chapters, almost wholly prophetic,
Israel's enemy Assyria, present the Messiah as a mighty Ruler
and King. (2.) Four chapters are historical (36-39), relating to
the times of Hezekiah. (3.) Prophetical (40-66), Israel's enemy
Babylon, describing the Messiah as a suffering victim, meek and
The genuineness of the section Isa. 40-66 has been keenly
opposed by able critics. They assert that it must be the
production of a deutero-Isaiah, who lived toward the close of
the Babylonian captivity. This theory was originated by Koppe, a
German writer at the close of the last century. There are other
portions of the book also (e.g., ch. 13; 24-27; and certain
verses in ch. 14 and 21) which they attribute to some other
prophet than Isaiah. Thus they say that some five or seven, or
even more, unknown prophets had a hand in the production of this
book. The considerations which have led to such a result are
various: (1.) They cannot, as some say, conceive it possible
that Isaiah, living in B.C. 700, could foretell the appearance
and the exploits of a prince called Cyrus, who would set the
Jews free from captivity one hundred and seventy years after.
(2.) It is alleged that the prophet takes the time of the
Captivity as his standpoint, and speaks of it as then present;
and (3) that there is such a difference between the style and
language of the closing section (40-66) and those of the
preceding chapters as to necessitate a different authorship, and
lead to the conclusion that there were at least two Isaiahs. But
even granting the fact of a great diversity of style and
language, this will not necessitate the conclusion attempted to
be drawn from it. The diversity of subjects treated of and the
peculiarities of the prophet's position at the time the
prophecies were uttered will sufficiently account for this.
The arguments in favour of the unity of the book are quite
conclusive. When the LXX. version was made (about B.C. 250) the
entire contents of the book were ascribed to Isaiah, the son of
Amoz. It is not called in question, moreover, that in the time
of our Lord the book existed in the form in which we now have
it. Many prophecies in the disputed portions are quoted in the
New Testament as the words of Isaiah (Matt. 3:3; Luke 3:4-6;
4:16-41; John 12:38; Acts 8:28; Rom. 10:16-21). Universal and
persistent tradition has ascribed the whole book to one author.
Besides this, the internal evidence, the similarity in the
language and style, in the thoughts and images and rhetorical
ornaments, all points to the same conclusion; and its local
colouring and allusions show that it is obviously of Palestinian
origin. The theory therefore of a double authorship of the book,
much less of a manifold authorship, cannot be maintained. The
book, with all the diversity of its contents, is one, and is, we
believe, the production of the great prophet whose name it
Babylon, kingdom of
called "the land of the Chaldeans" (Jer. 24:5; Ezek, 12:13), was
an extensive province in Central Asia along the valley of the
Tigris from the Persian Gulf northward for some 300 miles. It
was famed for its fertility and its riches. Its capital was the
city of Babylon, a great commercial centre (Ezek. 17:4; Isa.
43:14). Babylonia was divided into the two districts of Accad in
the north, and Summer (probably the Shinar of the Old Testament)
in the south. Among its chief cities may be mentioned Ur (now
Mugheir or Mugayyar), on the western bank of the Euphrates;
Uruk, or Erech (Gen. 10:10) (now Warka), between Ur and Babylon;
Larsa (now Senkereh), the Ellasar of Gen. 14:1, a little to the
east of Erech; Nipur (now Niffer), south-east of Babylon;
Sepharvaim (2 Kings 17:24), "the two Sipparas" (now Abu-Habba),
considerably to the north of Babylon; and Eridu, "the good city"
(now Abu-Shahrein), which lay originally on the shore of the
Persian Gulf, but is now, owing to the silting up of the sand,
about 100 miles distant from it. Another city was Kulunu, or
Calneh (Gen. 10:10).
The salt-marshes at the mouths of the Euphrates and Tigris
were called Marratu, "the bitter" or "salt", the Merathaim of
Jer. 50:21. They were the original home of the Kalda, or
The most famous of the early kings of Babylonia were Sargon of
Accad (B.C.3800) and his son, Naram-Sin, who conquered a large
part of Western Asia, establishing their power in Israel, and
even carrying their arms to the Sinaitic peninsula. A great
Babylonian library was founded in the reign of Sargon. Babylonia
was subsequently again broken up into more than one state, and
at one time fell under the domination of Elam. This was put an
end to by Khammu-rabi (Amraphel), who drove the Elamites out of
the country, and overcame Arioch, the son of an Elamite prince.
From this time forward Babylonia was a united monarchy. About
B.C. 1750 it was conquered by the Kassi, or Kosseans, from the
mountains of Elam, and a Kassite dynasty ruled over it for 576
years and 9 months.
In the time of Khammu-rabi, Syria and Israel were subject
to Babylonia and its Elamite suzerain; and after the overthrow
of the Elamite supremacy, the Babylonian kings continued to
exercise their influence and power in what was called "the land
of the Amorites." In the epoch of the Kassite dynasty, however,
Canaan passed into the hands of Egypt.
In B.C. 729, Babylonia was conquered by the Assyrian king
Tiglath-pileser III.; but on the death of Shalmaneser IV. it was
seized by the Kalda or "Chaldean" prince Merodach-baladan (2
Kings 20:12-19), who held it till B.C. 709, when he was driven
out by Sargon.
Under Sennacherib, Babylonia revolted from Assyria several
times, with the help of the Elamites, and after one of these
revolts Babylon was destroyed by Sennacherib, B.C. 689. It was
rebuilt by Esarhaddon, who made it his residence during part of
the year, and it was to Babylon that Manasseh was brought a
prisoner (2 Chr. 33:11). After the death of Esarhaddon,
Saul-sumyukin, the viceroy of Babylonia, revolted against his
brother the Assyrian king, and the revolt was suppressed with
When Nineveh was destroyed, B.C. 606, Nabopolassar, the
viceroy of Babylonia, who seems to have been of Chaldean
descent, made himself independent. His son Nebuchadrezzar
(Nabu-kudur-uzur), after defeating the Egyptians at Carchemish,
succeeded him as king, B.C. 604, and founded the Babylonian
empire. He strongly fortified Babylon, and adorned it with
palaces and other buildings. His son, Evil-merodach, who
succeeded him in B.C. 561, was murdered after a reign of two
years. The last monarch of the Babylonian empire was Nabonidus
(Nabu-nahid), B.C. 555-538, whose eldest son, Belshazzar
(Bilu-sar-uzur), is mentioned in several inscriptions. Babylon
was captured by Cyrus, B.C. 538, and though it revolted more
than once in later years, it never succeeded in maintaining its
Chronicles, Books of
The two books were originally one. They bore the title in the
Massoretic Hebrew "Dibre hayyamim", i.e., "Acts of the Days."
This title was rendered by Jerome in his Latin version
"Chronicon," and hence "Chronicles." In the Septuagint version
the book is divided into two, and bears the title Paraleipomena,
i.e., "things omitted," or "supplements", because containing
many things omitted in the Books of Kings.
The contents of these books are comprehended under four heads.
(1.) The first nine chapters of Book I. contain little more than
a list of genealogies in the line of Israel down to the time of
David. (2.) The remainder of the first book contains a history
of the reign of David. (3.) The first nine chapters of Book II.
contain the history of the reign of Solomon. (4.) The remaining
chapters of the second book contain the history of the separate
kingdom of Judah to the time of the return from Babylonian
The time of the composition of the Chronicles was, there is
every ground to conclude, subsequent to the Babylonian Exile,
probably between 450 and 435 B.C. The contents of this twofold
book, both as to matter and form, correspond closely with this
idea. The close of the book records the proclamation of Cyrus
permitting the Jews to return to their own land, and this forms
the opening passage of the Book of Ezra, which must be viewed as
a continuation of the Chronicles. The peculiar form of the
language, being Aramaean in its general character, harmonizes
also with that of the books which were written after the Exile.
The author was certainly contemporary with Zerubbabel, details
of whose family history are given (1 Chr. 3:19).
The time of the composition being determined, the question of
the authorship may be more easily decided. According to Jewish
tradition, which was universally received down to the middle of
the seventeenth century, Ezra was regarded as the author of the
Chronicles. There are many points of resemblance and of contact
between the Chronicles and the Book of Ezra which seem to
confirm this opinion. The conclusion of the one and the
beginning of the other are almost identical in expression. In
their spirit and characteristics they are the same, showing thus
also an identity of authorship.
In their general scope and design these books are not so much
historical as didactic. The principal aim of the writer appears
to be to present moral and religious truth. He does not give
prominence to political occurences, as is done in Samuel and
Kings, but to ecclesiastical institutions. "The genealogies, so
uninteresting to most modern readers, were really an important
part of the public records of the Hebrew state. They were the
basis on which not only the land was distributed and held, but
the public services of the temple were arranged and conducted,
the Levites and their descendants alone, as is well known, being
entitled and first fruits set apart for that purpose." The
"Chronicles" are an epitome of the sacred history from the days
of Adam down to the return from Babylonian Exile, a period of
about 3,500 years. The writer gathers up "the threads of the old
national life broken by the Captivity."
The sources whence the chronicler compiled his work were
public records, registers, and genealogical tables belonging to
the Jews. These are referred to in the course of the book (1
Chr. 27:24; 29:29; 2 Chr. 9:29; 12:15; 13:22; 20:34; 24:27;
26:22; 32:32; 33:18, 19; 27:7; 35:25). There are in Chronicles,
and the books of Samuel and Kings, forty parallels, often
verbal, proving that the writer both knew and used these records
(1 Chr. 17:18; compare 2 Sam. 7:18-20; 1 Chr. 19; compare 2 Sam. 10,
As compared with Samuel and Kings, the Book of Chronicles
omits many particulars there recorded (2 Sam. 6:20-23; 9; 11;
14-19, etc.), and includes many things peculiar to itself (1
Chr. 12; 22; 23-26; 27; 28; 29, etc.). Twenty whole chapters,
and twenty-four parts of chapters, are occupied with matter not
found elsewhere. It also records many things in fuller detail,
as (e.g.) the list of David's heroes (1 Chr. 12:1-37), the
removal of the ark from Kirjath-jearim to Mount Zion (1 Chr. 13;
15:2-24; 16:4-43; compare 2 Sam. 6), Uzziah's leprosy and its
cause (2 Chr. 26:16-21; compare 2 Kings 15:5), etc.
It has also been observed that another peculiarity of the book
is that it substitutes modern and more common expressions for
those that had then become unusual or obsolete. This is seen
particularly in the substitution of modern names of places, such
as were in use in the writer's day, for the old names; thus
Gezer (1 Chr. 20:4) is used instead of Gob (2 Sam. 21:18), etc.
The Books of Chronicles are ranked among the "khethubim" or
hagiographa. They are alluded to, though not directly quoted, in
the New Testament (Heb. 5:4; Matt. 12:42; 23:35; Luke 1:5;
in the Babylonian orthography Nabu-kudur-uzur, which means
"Nebo, protect the crown!" or the "frontiers." In an inscription
he styles himself "Nebo's favourite." He was the son and
successor of Nabopolassar, who delivered Babylon from its
dependence on Assyria and laid Nineveh in ruins. He was the
greatest and most powerful of all the Babylonian kings. He
married the daughter of Cyaxares, and thus the Median and
Babylonian dynasties were united.
Necho II., the king of Egypt, gained a victory over the
Assyrians at Carchemish. (See JOSIAH T0002116; MEGIDDO
T0002463.) This secured to Egypt the possession of the Syrian
provinces of Assyria, including Israel. The remaining
provinces of the Assyrian empire were divided between Babylonia
and Media. But Nabopolassar was ambitious of reconquering from
Necho the western provinces of Syria, and for this purpose he
sent his son with a powerful army westward (Dan. 1:1). The
Egyptians met him at Carchemish, where a furious battle was
fought, resulting in the complete rout of the Egyptians, who
were driven back (Jer. 46:2-12), and Syria and Phoenicia brought
under the sway of Babylon (B.C. 606). From that time "the king
of Egypt came not again any more out of his land" (2 Kings
24:7). Nebuchadnezzar also subdued the whole of Israel, and
took Jerusalem, carrying away captive a great multitude of the
Jews, among whom were Daniel and his companions (Dan. 1:1, 2;
Jer. 27:19; 40:1).
Three years after this, Jehoiakim, who had reigned in
Jerusalem as a Babylonian vassal, rebelled against the
oppressor, trusting to help from Egypt (2 Kings 24:1). This led
Nebuchadnezzar to march an army again to the conquest of
Jerusalem, which at once yielded to him (B.C. 598). A third time
he came against it, and deposed Jehoiachin, whom he carried into
Babylon, with a large portion of the population of the city, and
the sacred vessels of the temple, placing Zedekiah on the throne
of Judah in his stead. He also, heedless of the warnings of the
prophet, entered into an alliance with Egypt, and rebelled
against Babylon. This brought about the final siege of the city,
which was at length taken and utterly destroyed (B.C. 586).
Zedekiah was taken captive, and had his eyes put out by order of
the king of Babylon, who made him a prisoner for the remainder
of his life.
An onyx cameo, now in the museum of Florence, bears on it an
arrow-headed inscription, which is certainly ancient and
genuine. The helmeted profile is said (Schrader) to be genuine
also, but it is more probable that it is the portrait of a
usurper in the time of Darius (Hystaspes), called Nidinta-Bel,
who took the name of "Nebuchadrezzar." The inscription has been
thus translated:, "In honour of Merodach, his lord,
Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, in his lifetime had this made."
A clay tablet, now in the British Museum, bears the following
inscription, the only one as yet found which refers to his wars:
"In the thirty-seventh year of Nebuchadnezzar, king of the
country of Babylon, he went to Egypt [Misr] to make war. Amasis,
king of Egypt, collected [his army], and marched and spread
abroad." Thus were fulfilled the words of the prophet (Jer.
46:13-26; Ezek. 29:2-20). Having completed the subjugation of
Phoenicia, and inflicted chastisement on Egypt, Nebuchadnezzar
now set himself to rebuild and adorn the city of Babylon (Dan.
4:30), and to add to the greatness and prosperity of his kingdom
by constructing canals and aqueducts and reservoirs surpassing
in grandeur and magnificence everything of the kind mentioned in
history (Dan. 2:37). He is represented as a "king of kings,"
ruling over a vast kingdom of many provinces, with a long list
of officers and rulers under him, "princes, governors,
captains," etc. (3:2, 3, 27). He may, indeed, be said to have
created the mighty empire over which he ruled.
"Modern research has shown that Nebuchadnezzar was the
greatest monarch that Babylon, or perhaps the East generally,
ever produced. He must have possessed an enormous command of
human labour, nine-tenths of Babylon itself, and
nineteen-twentieths of all the other ruins that in almost
countless profusion cover the land, are composed of bricks
stamped with his name. He appears to have built or restored
almost every city and temple in the whole country. His
inscriptions give an elaborate account of the immense works
which he constructed in and about Babylon itself, abundantly
illustrating the boast, 'Is not this great Babylon which I have
build?'" Rawlinson, Hist. Illustrations.
After the incident of the "burning fiery furnace" (Dan. 3)
into which the three Hebrew confessors were cast, Nebuchadnezzar
was afflicted with some peculiar mental aberration as a
punishment for his pride and vanity, probably the form of
madness known as lycanthropy (i.e, "the change of a man into a
wolf"). A remarkable confirmation of the Scripture narrative is
afforded by the recent discovery of a bronze door-step, which
bears an inscription to the effect that it was presented by
Nebuchadnezzar to the great temple at Borsippa as a votive
offering on account of his recovery from a terrible illness.
(See DANIEL T0000969.)
He survived his recovery for some years, and died B.C. 562, in
the eighty-third or eighty-fourth year of his age, after a reign
of forty-three years, and was succeeded by his son
Evil-merodach, who, after a reign of two years, was succeeded by
Neriglissar (559-555), who was succeeded by Nabonadius
(555-538), at the close of whose reign (less than a quarter of a
century after the death of Nebuchadnezzar) Babylon fell under
Cyrus at the head of the combined armies of Media and Persia.
"I have examined," says Sir Henry Rawlinson, "the bricks
belonging perhaps to a hundred different towns and cities in the
neighbourhood of Baghdad, and I never found any other legend
than that of Nebuchadnezzar, son of Nabopolassar, king of
Babylon." Nine-tenths of all the bricks amid the ruins of
Babylon are stamped with his name.
Before his death David had "with all his might" provided
materials in great abundance for the building of the temple on
the summit of Mount Moriah (1 Chr. 22:14; 29:4; 2 Chr. 3:1), on
the east of the city, on the spot where Abraham had offered up
Isaac (Gen. 22:1-14). In the beginning of his reign Solomon set
about giving effect to the desire that had been so earnestly
cherished by his father, and prepared additional materials for
the building. From subterranean quarries at Jerusalem he
obtained huge blocks of stone for the foundations and walls of
the temple. These stones were prepared for their places in the
building under the eye of Tyrian master-builders. He also
entered into a compact with Hiram II., king of Tyre, for the
supply of whatever else was needed for the work, particularly
timber from the forests of Lebanon, which was brought in great
rafts by the sea to Joppa, whence it was dragged to Jerusalem (1
Kings 5). As the hill on which the temple was to be built did
not afford sufficient level space, a huge wall of solid masonry
of great height, in some places more than 200 feet high, was
raised across the south of the hill, and a similar wall on the
eastern side, and in the spaces between were erected many arches
and pillars, thus raising up the general surface to the required
level. Solomon also provided for a sufficient water supply for
the temple by hewing in the rocky hill vast cisterns, into which
water was conveyed by channels from the "pools" near Bethlehem.
One of these cisterns, the "great sea," was capable of
containing three millions of gallons. The overflow was led off
by a conduit to the Kidron.
In all these preparatory undertakings a space of about three
years was occupied; and now the process of the erection of the
great building began, under the direction of skilled Phoenician
builders and workmen, in the fourth year of Solomon's reign, 480
years after the Exodus (1 Kings 6; 2 Chr. 3). Many thousands of
labourers and skilled artisans were employed in the work. Stones
prepared in the quarries underneath the city (1 Kings 5:17, 18)
of huge dimension (see QUARRIES T0003032) were gradually placed
on the massive walls, and closely fitted together without any
mortar between, till the whole structure was completed. No sound
of hammer or axe or any tool of iron was heard as the structure
arose (6:7). "Like some tall palm the noiseless fabric sprang."
The building was 60 cubits long, 20 cubits wide, and 30 cubits
high. The engineers of the Israel Exploration Fund, in their
explorations around the temple area, discovered what is believed
to have been the "chief corner stone" of the temple, "the most
interesting stone in the world." It lies at the bottom of the
south-eastern angle, and is 3 feet 8 inches high by 14 feet
long. It rests on the solid rock at a depth of 79 feet 3 inches
below the present surface. (See PINNACLE T0002957.) In
examining the walls the engineers were "struck with admiration
at the vastness of the blocks and the general excellence of the
At length, in the autumn of the eleventh year of his reign,
seven and a half years after it had been begun, the temple was
completed in all its architectural magnificence and beauty. For
thirteen years there it stood, on the summit of Moriah, silent
and unused. The reasons for this strange delay in its
consecration are unknown. At the close of these thirteen years
preparations for the dedication of the temple were made on a
scale of the greatest magnificence. The ark was solemnly brought
from the tent in which David had deposited it to the place
prepared for it in the temple, and the glory-cloud, the symbol
of the divine presence, filled the house. Then Solomon ascended
a platform which had been erected for him, in the sight of all
the people, and lifting up his hands to heaven poured out his
heart to God in prayer (1 Kings 8; 2 Chr. 6, 7). The feast of
dedication, which lasted seven days, followed by the feast of
tabernacles, marked a new era in the history of Israel. On the
eighth day of the feast of tabernacles, Solomon dismissed the
vast assemblage of the people, who returned to their homes
filled with joy and gladness, "Had Solomon done no other service
beyond the building of the temple, he would still have
influenced the religious life of his people down to the latest
days. It was to them a perpetual reminder and visible symbol of
God's presence and protection, a strong bulwark of all the
sacred traditions of the law, a witness to duty, an impulse to
historic study, an inspiration of sacred song."
The temple consisted of, (1.) The oracle or most holy place (1
Kings 6:19; 8:6), called also the "inner house" (6:27), and the
"holiest of all" (Heb. 9:3). It was 20 cubits in length,
breadth, and height. It was floored and wainscotted with cedar
(1 Kings 6:16), and its walls and floor were overlaid with gold
(6:20, 21, 30). There was a two-leaved door between it and the
holy place overlaid with gold (2 Chr. 4:22); also a veil of blue
purple and crimson and fine linen (2 Chr. 3:14; compare Ex.
26:33). It had no windows (1 Kings 8:12). It was indeed the
dwelling-place of God. (2.) The holy place (q.v.), 1 Kings
8:8-10, called also the "greater house" (2 Chr. 3:5) and the
"temple" (1 Kings 6:17). (3.) The porch or entrance before the
temple on the east (1 Kings 6:3; 2 Chr. 3:4; 29:7). In the porch
stood the two pillars Jachin and Boaz (1 Kings 7:21; 2 Kings
11:14; 23:3). (4.) The chambers, which were built about the
temple on the southern, western, and northern sides (1 Kings
6:5-10). These formed a part of the building.
Round about the building were, (1.) The court of the priests
(2 Chr. 4:9), called the "inner court" (1 Kings 6:36). It
contained the altar of burnt-offering (2 Chr. 15:8), the brazen
sea (4:2-5, 10), and ten lavers (1 Kings 7:38, 39). (2.) The
great court, which surrounded the whole temple (2 Chr. 4:9).
Here the people assembled to worship God (Jer. 19:14; 26:2).
This temple erected by Solomon was many times pillaged during
the course of its history, (1) 1 Kings 14:25, 26; (2) 2 Kings
14:14; (3) 2 Kings 16:8, 17, 18; (4) 2 Kings 18:15, 16. At last
it was pillaged and destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kings 24:13;
2 Chr. 36:7). He burned the temple, and carried all its
treasures with him to Babylon (2 Kings 25:9-17; 2 Chr. 36:19;
Isa. 64:11). These sacred vessels were at length, at the close
of the Captivity, restored to the Jews by Cyrus (Ezra 1:7-11).
originally denoted only the sea-coast of the land of Canaan
inhabited by the Philistines (Ex. 15:14; Isa. 14:29, 31; Joel
3:4), and in this sense exclusively the Hebrew name Pelesheth
(rendered "Philistia" in Ps. 60:8; 83:7; 87:4; 108:9) occurs in
the Old Testament.
Not till a late period in Jewish history was this name used to
denote "the land of the Hebrews" in general (Gen. 40:15). It is
also called "the holy land" (Zech. 2:12), the "land of Jehovah"
(Hos. 9:3; Ps. 85:1), the "land of promise" (Heb. 11:9), because
promised to Abraham (Gen. 12:7; 24:7), the "land of Canaan"
(Gen. 12:5), the "land of Israel" (1 Sam. 13:19), and the "land
of Judah" (Isa. 19:17).
The territory promised as an inheritance to the seed of
Abraham (Gen. 15:18-21; Num. 34:1-12) was bounded on the east by
the river Euphrates, on the west by the Mediterranean, on the
north by the "entrance of Hamath," and on the south by the
"river of Egypt." This extent of territory, about 60,000 square
miles, was at length conquered by David, and was ruled over also
by his son Solomon (2 Sam. 8; 1 Chr. 18; 1 Kings 4:1, 21). This
vast empire was the Promised Land; but Israel was only a part
of it, terminating in the north at the southern extremity of the
Lebanon range, and in the south in the wilderness of Paran, thus
extending in all to about 144 miles in length. Its average
breadth was about 60 miles from the Mediterranean on the west to
beyond the Jordan. It has fittingly been designated "the least
of all lands." Western Israel, on the south of Gaza, is only
about 40 miles in breadth from the Mediterranean to the Dead
Sea, narrowing gradually toward the north, where it is only 20
miles from the sea-coast to the Jordan.
Israel, "set in the midst" (Ezek. 5:5) of all other lands,
is the most remarkable country on the face of the earth. No
single country of such an extent has so great a variety of
climate, and hence also of plant and animal life. Moses
describes it as "a good land, a land of brooks of water, of
fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills; a
land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and
pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey; a land wherein
thou shalt not eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack
any thing in it; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose
hills thou mayest dig brass" (Deut. 8:7-9).
"In the time of Christ the country looked, in all probability,
much as now. The whole land consists of rounded limestone hills,
fretted into countless stony valleys, offering but rarely level
tracts, of which Esdraelon alone, below Nazareth, is large
enough to be seen on the map. The original woods had for ages
disappeared, though the slopes were dotted, as now, with figs,
olives, and other fruit-trees where there was any soil.
Permanent streams were even then unknown, the passing rush of
winter torrents being all that was seen among the hills. The
autumn and spring rains, caught in deep cisterns hewn out like
huge underground jars in the soft limestone, with artificial
mud-banked ponds still found near all villages, furnished water.
Hills now bare, or at best rough with stunted growth, were then
terraced, so as to grow vines, olives, and grain. To-day almost
desolate, the country then teemed with population. Wine-presses
cut in the rocks, endless terraces, and the ruins of old
vineyard towers are now found amidst solitudes overgrown for
ages with thorns and thistles, or with wild shrubs and poor
gnarled scrub" (Geikie's Life of Christ).
From an early period the land was inhabited by the descendants
of Canaan, who retained possession of the whole land "from Sidon
to Gaza" till the time of the conquest by Joshua, when it was
occupied by the twelve tribes. Two tribes and a half had their
allotments given them by Moses on the east of the Jordan (Deut.
3:12-20; compare Num. 1:17-46; Josh. 4:12-13). The remaining
tribes had their portion on the west of Jordan.
From the conquest till the time of Saul, about four hundred
years, the people were governed by judges. For a period of one
hundred and twenty years the kingdom retained its unity while it
was ruled by Saul and David and Solomon. On the death of
Solomon, his son Rehoboam ascended the throne; but his conduct
was such that ten of the tribes revolted, and formed an
independent monarchy, called the kingdom of Israel, or the
northern kingdom, the capital of which was first Shechem and
afterwards Samaria. This kingdom was destroyed. The Israelites
were carried captive by Shalmanezer, king of Assyria, B.C. 722,
after an independent existence of two hundred and fifty-three
years. The place of the captives carried away was supplied by
tribes brought from the east, and thus was formed the Samaritan
nation (2 Kings 17:24-29).
Nebuchadnezzar came up against the kingdom of the two tribes,
the kingdom of Judah, the capital of which was Jerusalem, one
hundred and thirty-four years after the overthrow of the kingdom
of Israel. He overthrew the city, plundered the temple, and
carried the people into captivity to Babylon (B.C. 587), where
they remained seventy years. At the close of the period of the
Captivity, they returned to their own land, under the edict of
Cyrus (Ezra 1:1-4). They rebuilt the city and temple, and
restored the old Jewish commonwealth.
For a while after the Restoration the Jews were ruled by
Zerubbabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah, and afterwards by the high
priests, assisted by the Sanhedrin. After the death of Alexander
the Great at Babylon (B.C. 323), his vast empire was divided
between his four generals. Egypt, Arabia, Israel, and
Coele-Syria fell to the lot of Ptolemy Lagus. Ptolemy took
possession of Israel in B.C. 320, and carried nearly one
hundred thousand of the inhabitants of Jerusalem into Egypt. He
made Alexandria the capital of his kingdom, and treated the Jews
with consideration, confirming them in the enjoyment of many
After suffering persecution at the hands of Ptolemy's
successors, the Jews threw off the Egyptian yoke, and became
subject to Antiochus the Great, the king of Syria. The cruelty
and opression of the successors of Antiochus at length led to
the revolt under the Maccabees (B.C. 163), when they threw off
the Syrian yoke.
In the year B.C. 68, Israel was reduced by Pompey the Great
to a Roman province. He laid the walls of the city in ruins, and
massacred some twelve thousand of the inhabitants. He left the
temple, however, unijured. About twenty-five years after this
the Jews revolted and cast off the Roman yoke. They were
however, subdued by Herod the Great (q.v.). The city and the
temple were destroyed, and many of the inhabitants were put to
death. About B.C. 20, Herod proceeded to rebuild the city and
restore the ruined temple, which in about nine years and a half
was so far completed that the sacred services could be resumed
in it (compare John 2:20). He was succeeded by his son Archelaus,
who was deprived of his power, however, by Augustus, A.D. 6,
when Israel became a Roman province, ruled by Roman governors
or procurators. Pontius Pilate was the fifth of these
procurators. He was appointed to his office A.D. 25.
Exclusive of Idumea, the kingdom of Herod the Great
comprehended the whole of the country originally divided among
the twelve tribes, which he divided into four provinces or
districts. This division was recognized so long as Israel was
under the Roman dominion. These four provinces were, (1) Judea,
the southern portion of the country; (2) Samaria, the middle
province, the northern boundary of which ran along the hills to
the south of the plain of Esdraelon; (3) Galilee, the northern
province; and (4) Peraea (a Greek name meaning the "opposite
country"), the country lying east of the Jordan and the Dead
Sea. This province was subdivided into these districts, (1)
Peraea proper, lying between the rivers Arnon and Jabbok; (2)
Galaaditis (Gilead); (3) Batanaea; (4) Gaulonitis (Jaulan); (5)
Ituraea or Auranitis, the ancient Bashan; (6) Trachonitis; (7)
Abilene; (8) Decapolis, i.e., the region of the ten cities. The
whole territory of Israel, including the portions alloted to
the trans-Jordan tribes, extended to about eleven thousand
square miles. Recent exploration has shown the territory on the
west of Jordan alone to be six thousand square miles in extent,
the size of the principality of Wales.
called also Salem, Ariel, Jebus, the "city of God," the "holy
city;" by the modern Arabs el-Khuds, meaning "the holy;" once
"the city of Judah" (2 Chr. 25:28). This name is in the original
in the dual form, and means "possession of peace," or
"foundation of peace." The dual form probably refers to the two
mountains on which it was built, viz., Zion and Moriah; or, as
some suppose, to the two parts of the city, the "upper" and the
"lower city." Jerusalem is a "mountain city enthroned on a
mountain fastness" (compare Ps. 68:15, 16; 87:1; 125:2; 76:1, 2;
122:3). It stands on the edge of one of the highest table-lands
in Israel, and is surrounded on the south-eastern, the
southern, and the western sides by deep and precipitous ravines.
It is first mentioned in Scripture under the name Salem (Gen.
14:18; compare Ps. 76:2). When first mentioned under the name
Jerusalem, Adonizedek was its king (Josh. 10:1). It is
afterwards named among the cities of Benjamin (Judg. 19:10; 1
Chr. 11:4); but in the time of David it was divided between
Benjamin and Judah. After the death of Joshua the city was taken
and set on fire by the men of Judah (Judg. 1:1-8); but the
Jebusites were not wholly driven out of it. The city is not
again mentioned till we are told that David brought the head of
Goliath thither (1 Sam. 17:54). David afterwards led his forces
against the Jebusites still residing within its walls, and drove
them out, fixing his own dwelling on Zion, which he called "the
city of David" (2 Sam. 5:5-9; 1 Chr. 11:4-8). Here he built an
altar to the Lord on the threshing-floor of Araunah the Jebusite
(2 Sam. 24:15-25), and thither he brought up the ark of the
covenant and placed it in the new tabernacle which he had
prepared for it. Jerusalem now became the capital of the
After the death of David, Solomon built the temple, a house
for the name of the Lord, on Mount Moriah (B.C. 1010). He also
greatly strengthened and adorned the city, and it became the
great centre of all the civil and religious affairs of the
nation (Deut. 12:5; compare 12:14; 14:23; 16:11-16; Ps. 122).
After the disruption of the kingdom on the accession to the
throne of Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, Jerusalem became the
capital of the kingdom of the two tribes. It was subsequently
often taken and retaken by the Egyptians, the Assyrians, and by
the kings of Israel (2 Kings 14:13, 14; 18:15, 16; 23:33-35;
24:14; 2 Chr. 12:9; 26:9; 27:3, 4; 29:3; 32:30; 33:11), till
finally, for the abounding iniquities of the nation, after a
siege of three years, it was taken and utterly destroyed, its
walls razed to the ground, and its temple and palaces consumed
by fire, by Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon (2 Kings 25; 2
Chr. 36; Jer. 39), B.C. 588. The desolation of the city and the
land was completed by the retreat of the principal Jews into
Egypt (Jer. 40-44), and by the final carrying captive into
Babylon of all that still remained in the land (52:3), so that
it was left without an inhabitant (B.C. 582). Compare the
predictions, Deut. 28; Lev. 26:14-39.
But the streets and walls of Jerusalem were again to be built,
in troublous times (Dan. 9:16, 19, 25), after a captivity of
seventy years. This restoration was begun B.C. 536, "in the
first year of Cyrus" (Ezra 1:2, 3, 5-11). The Books of Ezra and
Nehemiah contain the history of the re-building of the city and
temple, and the restoration of the kingdom of the Jews,
consisting of a portion of all the tribes. The kingdom thus
constituted was for two centuries under the dominion of Persia,
till B.C. 331; and thereafter, for about a century and a half,
under the rulers of the Greek empire in Asia, till B.C. 167. For
a century the Jews maintained their independence under native
rulers, the Asmonean princes. At the close of this period they
fell under the rule of Herod and of members of his family, but
practically under Rome, till the time of the destruction of
Jerusalem, A.D. 70. The city was then laid in ruins.
The modern Jerusalem by-and-by began to be built over the
immense beds of rubbish resulting from the overthrow of the
ancient city; and whilst it occupies certainly the same site,
there are no evidences that even the lines of its streets are
now what they were in the ancient city. Till A.D. 131 the Jews
who still lingered about Jerusalem quietly submitted to the
Roman sway. But in that year the emperor (Hadrian), in order to
hold them in subjection, rebuilt and fortified the city. The
Jews, however, took possession of it, having risen under the
leadership of one Bar-Chohaba (i.e., "the son of the star") in
revolt against the Romans. Some four years afterwards (A.D.
135), however, they were driven out of it with great slaughter,
and the city was again destroyed; and over its ruins was built a
Roman city called Aelia Capitolina, a name which it retained
till it fell under the dominion of the Mohammedans, when it was
called el-Khuds, i.e., "the holy."
In A.D. 326 Helena, mother of the emperor Constantine, made a
pilgrimage to Jerusalem with the view of discovering the places
mentioned in the life of our Lord. She caused a church to be
built on what was then supposed to be the place of the nativity
at Bethlehem. Constantine, animated by her example, searched for
the holy sepulchre, and built over the supposed site a
magnificent church, which was completed and dedicated A.D. 335.
He relaxed the laws against the Jews till this time in force,
and permitted them once a year to visit the city and wail over
the desolation of "the holy and beautiful house."
In A.D. 614 the Persians, after defeating the Roman forces of
the emperor Heraclius, took Jerusalem by storm, and retained it
till A.D. 637, when it was taken by the Arabians under the
Khalif Omar. It remained in their possession till it passed, in
A.D. 960, under the dominion of the Fatimite khalifs of Egypt,
and in A.D. 1073 under the Turcomans. In A.D. 1099 the crusader
Godfrey of Bouillon took the city from the Moslems with great
slaughter, and was elected king of Jerusalem. He converted the
Mosque of Omar into a Christian cathedral. During the
eighty-eight years which followed, many churches and convents
were erected in the holy city. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre
was rebuilt during this period, and it alone remains to this
day. In A.D. 1187 the sultan Saladin wrested the city from the
Christians. From that time to the present day, with few
intervals, Jerusalem has remained in the hands of the Moslems.
It has, however, during that period been again and again taken
and retaken, demolished in great part and rebuilt, no city in
the world having passed through so many vicissitudes.
In the year 1850 the Greek and Latin monks residing in
Jerusalem had a fierce dispute about the guardianship of what
are called the "holy places." In this dispute the emperor
Nicholas of Russia sided with the Greeks, and Louis Napoleon,
the emperor of the French, with the Latins. This led the Turkish
authorities to settle the question in a way unsatisfactory to
Russia. Out of this there sprang the Crimean War, which was
protracted and sanguinary, but which had important consequences
in the way of breaking down the barriers of Turkish
Modern Jerusalem "lies near the summit of a broad
mountain-ridge, which extends without interruption from the
plain of Esdraelon to a line drawn between the southern end of
the Dead Sea and the southeastern corner of the Mediterranean."
This high, uneven table-land is everywhere from 20 to 25
geographical miles in breadth. It was anciently known as the
mountains of Ephraim and Judah.
"Jerusalem is a city of contrasts, and differs widely from
Damascus, not merely because it is a stone town in mountains,
whilst the latter is a mud city in a plain, but because while in
Damascus Moslem religion and Oriental custom are unmixed with
any foreign element, in Jerusalem every form of religion, every
nationality of East and West, is represented at one time."
Jerusalem is first mentioned under that name in the Book of
Joshua, and the Tell-el-Amarna collection of tablets includes
six letters from its Amorite king to Egypt, recording the attack
of the Abiri about B.C. 1480. The name is there spelt Uru-Salim
("city of peace"). Another monumental record in which the Holy
City is named is that of Sennacherib's attack in B.C. 702. The
"camp of the Assyrians" was still shown about A.D. 70, on the
flat ground to the north-west, included in the new quarter of
The city of David included both the upper city and Millo, and
was surrounded by a wall built by David and Solomon, who appear
to have restored the original Jebusite fortifications. The name
Zion (or Sion) appears to have been, like Ariel ("the hearth of
God"), a poetical term for Jerusalem, but in the Greek age was
more specially used of the Temple hill. The priests' quarter
grew up on Ophel, south of the Temple, where also was Solomon's
Palace outside the original city of David. The walls of the city
were extended by Jotham and Manasseh to include this suburb and
the Temple (2 Chr. 27:3; 33:14).
Jerusalem is now a town of some 50,000 inhabitants, with
ancient mediaeval walls, partly on the old lines, but extending
less far to the south. The traditional sites, as a rule, were
first shown in the 4th and later centuries A.D., and have no
authority. The results of excavation have, however, settled most
of the disputed questions, the limits of the Temple area, and
the course of the old walls having been traced.