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countrymen, in language equally direct and still more solemn: – “Hear the word of the Lord, all ye of Judah. . . . . . If ye thoroughly amend your ways and doings; if ye thoroughly execute judgment between a man and his neighbour; if ye oppress not the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and shed not innocent blood in this place, neither walk after other gods to your hurt: then will I cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers, for ever and ever.” Such men could not go scathless amongst their people or before their monarchs: Jeremiah was scourged and imprisoned;" and Elijah fled, melancholy and distrustful, into the wilderness.” No outrage, however, could suffocate the breath which they drew in from a higher atmosphere, though there was so little freedom to give it vent upon the earth. When one prophet fell or was precipitated from the height on which he still seems to stand with, far-seeing eyes and outstretched arms, another ascended to the post of peril and of inspiration. As years went on, the denunciation of wrongs that were then, and had been before, gave place to the prophecy of blessings that were yet to be; and higher above the ruins rise voices, like Isaiah's, preparing the glory of the Lord,” or, like Daniel's, foretelling the endless kingdom.” The time came when he who bewailed the gates, the bars, the kings, and the princes of Zion, was obliged to confess, with heavier lamentation, that the prophets, of whom he was one, could find no vision.” It was in punishment of countless sins committed, but in mercy towards countless hopes yet unconceived, that the Jews were conquered and swept away into captivity. The kingdom of Israel fell first before the arms of Assyria; and after one hundred and twenty years, the kingdom of Judah and the city of Jerusalem were subdued by Nebuchadnezzar, of Babylon.” Dispersed amongst strangers and oppressors, wasted in numbers, bereft of laws, and shaken in their faith itself, the Jews seemed to have abandoned or lost the charge which had been committed to them. But the tears shed and the harps strung by the rivers of Babylon restored them to the affections they would have for ever forgotten, perhaps, had their luxury and pride and independence been continued. Sixty years after the second captivity, when all the old and most of the young who had been dragged away were dead, a train of exiles was permitted by the Persian king, the conqueror of the other conquerors, to go back to Jerusalem. It was later still, by near a century, that the restoration was completed by the return of others who were still faithful to the traditions of their fathers' homes and their fathers' laws.” To these, indeed, who, though few in numbers” and weak in resources, were yet alive to the majesty of their national history, the Zion they revisited was a paradise within whose gates there were waters which rolled from holy mountains and paths which led to hallowed scenes. Hither they returned with memories and hopes to which many a generation before them would have been insensible; and it was without care for their dependence or their feebleness that they stooped upon their knees to gather the still unfaded promises among the scattered ruins of Jerusalem. The twelve Tribes were nominally reunited and the ancient institutions were nominally restored; but the Jews continued in subjection to Persia until the conquests of Alexander; after whose death, they submitted to his successors in Egypt and Syria; being at one time nearly exterminated by persecution and oppression under the Syrian Antiochus, and then again recovering a brief and turbulent independence under their own heroic Maccabees, only, however, to be bound in, at last, amongst the widespread dominions of Rome. Nevertheless, a national spirit, like that which issued from the severer Egyptian bondage, was formed anew in consequence of the captivity and the restoration, making the people cleave to one another, and persuading them, as an exile himself wrote, on his return, to walk in God's law.”
66 Jeremiah, VII. 3 – 7. 69 Isaiah, XL. 3-5. 67 Ibid., XX. 1, 2, XXXII. 2. 70 Daniel, II, 44. 68 1 Kings, XIX.2 et seq.
71 Jerem., Lamentations, II. 9. 73 The first restoration, according
72 The first captivity (of Israel) to common chronology, was in A. happened in A. C. 721; the second C. 536; the second taking place in (of Judah) in 599. 2 Kings, XVII. 457. Ezra, II. 1 et seq., VIII. 1 6, XXIV. 10-16. et seq.
74 “The whole congregation,” their countrymen. Ezra, II. 64 et which first returned, was only 42,360 seq. The numbers of the second in all; but this number was un- restoration are not clear. Ezra, doubtedly increased by those who VIII. 1 et seq. had already straggled back, or been 75 Nehemiah, X. 28, 29. living in Judea during the exile of
Had there been a second Moses to lead the people in their second deliverance, the end of ancient Jewish history might have been long protracted. Instead of him, however, or of any like him, Pharisees and Sadducees, elders, priests, and scribes, stand, wrangling and trifling, in the foreground of the scene which opens some time after the restoration; while behind are groups of lowlier people, the contrast between whom and their leaders appears to suggest the only hope of which the nation was then susceptible. The purposes of the return from Babylon to Jerusalem are not, perhaps, difficult to discern. It was necessary, on the one hand, that the faith associated with the fallen city should be preserved, and yet, on the other, imperative that the sins which had sprung from lust and dominion amongst its chosen worshippers should have no opportunity for revival, though their actual chastisement was over. If this interpretation of Providence be correct, as it is humble, it follows that the recall of the Jews, as a religious, was unattended by any corresponding regeneration of them as a free nation. They appear, indeed, in an aspect of less security on their own part, that they were the favored race of all others upon the earth; their intercourse with other nations” seems to extend; and, except with the phylacteried priest or the long-robed Pharisee, the pride of earlier times was buried deep beneath the wrecks of their independence.
76 Partly in respect to the knowledge of the East, whither they had been in exile, or of the West, with which they were connected after their return. Partly, also, by the admission of proselytes, who may have been (but this is only conjec
WOL. I. 33
turally stated) more readily received in these later days. As to proselytism more generally, see Jennings's Lect. Jewish Antiquities, Book I. ch. 3.; Reland, Antiq. Sac. Vet. Hebræor., II. 7, sect. 14 ; and Tacit., Hist., W. 5.
The redemption of humanity could be prepared only through humbleness for what had passed on earth, and hope for what was to come from Heaven. Neither feeling could be aroused amongst the Jews as a nation; but there were individuals, and even classes, in whom a spirit was forming itself unseen, like that of which the prophets spoke, and to which the harps in Babylon were strung. The most inspiring promise of Moses was the appearance of a prophet who would be heard, though he himself were forsaken;” the most eager aspiration of Malachi was to have the temple prepared for the coming of the Lord.” There were some, though few, indeed, by whom such memories were cherished and such hopes implored, in ignorance, perhaps, but in contrition. It was to these, to the shepherds, the fishermen, and the penitent, that the angels sang; these, likewise, that He who was “so much better than the angels”” comforted, at last.
77 Deut. XVIII. 15, 18. 79 Hebrews, I. 4. 78 Malachi, II. 10, III. 1.