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SECOND CHRONICLES XXXVI-DESTRUCTION OF JERUSALEM 819

11 s Zedekiah was one and twenty years old when he began to reign, and reigned eleven years in Jerusalem.

12 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD his God, and humbled not himself before Jeremiah the prophet speaking from the mouth of the LORD.

13 And he also rebelled against king Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him swear by God: but he stiffened his neck, and hardened his heart from turning unto the LORD God of Israel.

14 | Moreover all the chief of the priests, and the people, transgressed very much after all the abominations of the heathen; and polluted the house of the LORD which he had hallowed in Jerusalem.

15 And the LORD God of their fathers sent to them by his messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because he had compassion on his people, and on his dwelling place:

16 But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused' his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against his people, till there was no remedy.

17 Therefore he brought upon them the king of the Chaldees, who slew their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion upon young man or maiden, old man, or him that stooped for age: he gave them all into his hand.

18 And all the vessels of the house of God, great and small, and the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king, and of his princes; all these he brought to Babylon.

19 And they burnt the house of God, and brake down the wall of Jerusalem, and burnt all the palaces thereof with fire, and destroyed all the goodly vessels thereof.

20 And them that had escaped from the sword carried he away to Babylon; where they were servants to him and his sons until the reign of the kingdom of Persia:

21 To fulfil the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths: for as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbath, to fulfil threescore and ten years.

22 { Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying,

23 Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth hath the LORD God of heaven given me; and he hath charged me to build him an house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people? The Lord his God be with him, and

let him go up.

1The Revised Version alters “misused" to "scoffed at."

Introduction to the Book of Ezra

The Book of Ezra is a natural continuation of those of Chronicles, and has apparently been put together by the same compiler. Hebrew tradition ascribes its authorship to Ezra himself, “a ready scribe.” While this can not be correct as applied to the entire book, yet in some passages Ezra's words are given in the first person, as though spoken directly. Evidently, the editor or chronicler has incorporated the personal memoirs of Ezra, which constitute a source of first-class historical information. This is especially important, since the chronicler himself lived at a later time. In addition to these memoirs he used a series of documents containing the correspondence of the Persian Kings, which were written in Aramaic, which was the diplomatic language of the Persian court for its official business in Syria, Palestine and Egypt.

The book is divided into two parts. The six opening chapters tell of the first return of some portion of the Jews from their Babylonian captivity. This migration occurred in 537-6 B.C. under the direction of Sheshbazzar. Whether he was the same as Zerubbabel, who is afterward mentioned as the active leader, or whether Zurubbabel was his nephew, at any rate he was a descendant of the former kings of Judah. Cyrus had made him Persian governor of the province Judea. The return of these exiles seems to have been actuated largely by religious motives; and the chief effort of the colonists was devoted at first to the rebuilding of the Temple. But untoward circumstances and the opposition of hostile neighbors delayed this work for many years. Under the influence of the prophets Haggai and Zechariah it was taken up again, and the temple was completed in 516 B.C.

After this there is in the book an unnoted gap of time during which sixty years elapse; and chapter seven begins the personal experiences of Ezra. Eighty years after the first migration Ezra led a second host of the Jews back to their native land. 'Under his guidance a vigorous religious reformation was inaugurated.

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