Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

both in the Land of Promise, and in their captivity. And we further find, in still stronger coincidence with the same view, that when after twenty years, the building of the temple by Zerubbabel was completed in 516 B. C. “the children of Israel, the priests, and the Levites, and the rest of the children of the captivity, kept the dedication of this house of God, with joy; and offered at the dedication of this house a hundred bullocks, ... and for a sin-offering for all Israel, twelve he-goats, according to the number of the tribes of Ísrael.”* At the same time, also, the passover was kept by “the children of Israel, which were come again out of captivity.” These accounts obviously refer not to the Jews alone, nor to the ten tribes alone; but to all the children of Israel, the Hebrews, who had been in captivity together; and they necessarily imply, that the former distinction and enmity between the two tribes and the ten tribes, had been already done away; and that both in Palestine, and in the country of their exile, the whole Hebrew nation was again one, whether spoken of as Jews or as Israel.

But of this reunited people, there still remained large numbers in the countries whither they had been carried away captive; and an important event in their history is related in the book of Esther. The luxurious Ahasuerus (Heb. Akhashverosh), most probably the Persian Xerxes, so far as we may judge from the nament after 485 B. C., took to wife Esther the niece of Mordecai, a Jew descended from the tribe of Benjamin, and dwelling in Shushan, the capital of the Persian empire. His ancestors had been brought away from Jerusalem with Jeconiah (Jehoiachin); and we thus see, that the Jews of that captivity were not confined to Babylon and Mesopotamia, but dwelt, like the Israelites, dispersed through “ the cities of the Medes” and Persians. Such also was Haman's account of them, when he sought to destroy them: “There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of thy kingdom; and their laws are diverse from all people ; neither keep they the king's laws." This description applies

* Ezra 6: 16, 17—21.

† The ancient Persian name of this monarch is found in the cuneiform inscriptions at Persepolis, written Khshhershe or Khshvershe ; out of which the Greeks made Xerxes, and the Hebrews, by prefixing their prosthetic Aleph, Akhashverosh. Gesenius, Thesaur. sub art.

# See also Josephus expressly, Antiq. XI. 5. 2. § Esth. 3: 8.

equally to Jews or Israelites, so far as they adhered to their religion; between whom Haman least of all would be likely to make a distinction, if any existed. Nevertheless, they are spoken of throughout the whole book of Esther, only as Jews; and this would therefore seem already to have become a current appellation of the amalgamated people. Their numbers we can judge of only from the number of the enemy slain by them in self-defence; which is given at five hundred in Shushan itself, and seventy-five thousand in the various provinces,-probably not including Palestine.* If this statement be correct, there cannot well have been less than some hundred thousands of this Jewish population.

Among all these, it is hardly possible not to suppose, that very many individuals and families would take advantage of the general permission to return, granted to the exiles, and repair at different times to the land of their fathers, where the temple had now been rebuilt, and the national worship re-established. But it was not until nearly eighty years after the first returning company under Zerubbabel, that another caravan was brought together by royal authority under the direction of Ezra. This took place in the seventh year of Artaxerxes Longimanus, about 458 B. C.f The decree of that monarch, directed to Ezra, had respect not alone to the Jews, nor to the ten tribes; but was as follows: “I make a decree, that all they of the people of Israel, and his priests and Levites, in my realm, who are minded of their own free-will to go up to Jerusalem, go with thee.” In accordance with this permission, Ezra “ gathered together the chief men out of Israel, to go up with him;" and after their arrival at Jerusalem, "the children of those who had been carried away, which were come out of the captivity, offered burnt-offerings unto the God of Israel, twelve bullocks for all Israel, ... twelve he-goats for a sin-offering.”I And in the subsequent complaint to Ezra, of the intermingling of the people with the heathen round about, it is the people of Israel” who have thus sinned ; and “ there assembled unto him out of Israel a very great congregation of men, women, and children ; for the people wept sore.”

* Esth. 9: 12, 15, 16.--The influence of Mordecai, as prime minister of the Persian king, would readily account for the observance of the feast of Purim among the Jews of Palestine. I Ezra 7: 8.

# Ibid. 7: 28. 8: 35. § Ezra 9: 1. 10: 1. Neh. 9: 1, 2.

In all this, we have again strong evidence, that not only had Judah and Israel become reunited both in Palestine and the East ; but also that even the distinction of tribes was in a great measure forgotten or neglected, except as to the priests and Levites. In all the lists of the book of Ezra, and later, a specification of tribe very rarely occurs.

Thirteen or fourteen years after Ezra, Nehemiah repaired as the king's governor to Jerusalem. He appears not to have been accompanied by any band of returning exiles; but he built up the walls of Jerusalem, and reinstated the feast of tabernacles : " And the congregation of them that were come again out of the captivity made booths, and sat under the booths. ... And there was very great gladness.

And in the same month,“ the children of Israel were assembled with fasting."* The Hebrew nation was therefore still one in worship and feeling; although as Nehemiah was the royal governor only of Judah and Jerusalem, and not of Samaria, nor Galilee, nor Gilead, his doings and writings have naturally reference more to the inhabitants of the districts of Judah and Benjamin, than to the other portions of Palestine.t

Such is the history of the return of Judah and Israel to their native land. It does not follow that all returned ; indeed, the very language of Ezra implies that they did not.f The descendants of the ten tribes had now been settled down throughout the East from 720 to 440 B. C., nearly three hundred years, and those of Judah and Benjamin had also been there for about one hundred and fifty years. These regions, therefore, were their home and country; and although many doubtless afterwards went up to the Promised Land, yet very many, we must suppose, clung to these their paternal abodes, in preference to becoming strangers and sojourners in the land of their ancestors. But they were now brethren in feeling and in name; and whether called Jews or Israelites, they were the reunited stock of Abraham, the children of Israel, the people of the Hebrews. From this time onward to the Christian era, they appear on the pages of history only as one nation, whether in Palestine or in other lands--the Jews. The name of the ten tribes becomes lost; and thus there early arose the impression that the ten tribes themselves were lost.

* Neh. 8: 17, 9: 1. Compare 10: 39. † Neh. 3, 4, 11, 12.

| Ezra 9: 28.

arms.

It is not necessary to trace the further history of the Hebrew nation, now known as the Jews both in and out of Palestine. During the interval from Nehemiah to the coming of Christ, they suffered many revolutions, great oppression, and frequent desolations. Their country became the football of war and conquest, between the kingdoms of Egypt and Syria; under the Maccabees, in the second century before Christ, they maintained for a time an independent stand among the nations; but at length sunk before the all-engulfing power of the Roman

Under Alexander and his successors multitudes were transported or allured into Egypt, where a temple was erected and the Septuagint version of the Scriptures made for their use. During the same interval, great numbers also had wandered into Syria ; where, in the cities from Damascus to Antioch and elsewhere, they lived in quiet and enjoyed the same rights as the Greeks.* From Syria they found their way to Asia Minor ; where in the apostolic age all the principal cities were full of Jews, who were protected in their rights by many decrees of the Roman senate and emperors. At the same period they were likewise dwelling in great numbers in the cities of Macedonia and Achaia, and also in Rome itself. Most of these were apparently emigrants from the land of Palestine. It can also hardly be doubted, that while the chief motive of this emigration was traffic and the hope of gain, many would also repair from Palestine to Mesopotamia and the countries of the east; and that the bands of union and fellowship between them and their brethren already in those regions would become closer and stronger ; such, as we shall see, was actually the

case.

Such was the state of the nation when the Saviour appeared, and the books of the New Testament were written. At this time Galilee was one of the most populous portions of the whole land, and the country east of the Jordan was likewise full of Jews. Our Lord himself, though descended from David,

* Acts 9: 2. Joseph. Antiq. XII. 3, 1. B. J. VII. 3, 3.

† Acts 2: 9, 10. See too the journeyings of Paul as recorded in the book of Acts. Several such decrees are given by Josephus, Antiq. XIV. 10. XVI. 6.

I Acts 2: 10.

Ś This was also the case in the time of the Maccabees; 1 Macc. 5: 9, seq., 14, seq.

was from the former region, and also visited the latter. Under these circumstances, it is not surprising to find St. Paul saying, in speaking of the promise of God made unto the fathers : “Unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come ;” meaning obviously the whole Hebrew nation as then known, or, as they were then called, the Jews.* In like manner the apostle James directs his Epistle “ to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad ;”+ while Peter addresses bimself only. “ to the strangers (sojourners] scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia," i. e. throughout Asia Minor.

These “ dispersed Jews" (ý diconogó), the twelve tribes thus scattered abroad, were, as we have seen, chiefly emigrants from Palestine, settled or sojourning in Egypt, Syria, Asia Minor, Greece and Rome. The “ dispersion” in the east alone, was probably made up, partly indeed of emigrants from Palestine, but chiefly of the descendants of those who had remained in those countries after the return of the “captivity.” All however were now Jews, from whatever tribe descended, whether known or unknown. They are called by Josephus : “ Jews sojourning beyond the Euphrates.” They had been confirmed by Alexander the Great in their privileges and the right to live according to their own laws. Under his successors of the Seleucian dynasty, they had continued to be favored as loyal subjects; and, as such, a large colony of them was sent by Antiochus the Great to Lydia and Phrygia in Asia Minor, in order to prevent insurrection in those provinces. In the days of the apostles a great multitude of Jews were thus dwelling beyond the Euphrates,” who stood in close connection with Palestine, and sent up regularly every year their annual tribute to the

* Acts 27: 6.
+ James 1: 1, ταϊς δώδεκα φυλαίς ταϊς εν τη διασπορα.

1 1 Ρet. 1: 1, εκλεκτούς παρεπιδημοις διασποράς Πόντου, κ. τ. λ.In the New Testament, the prophetess Anna is mentioned as being of the tribe of Asher, Luke 2: 36 ; and St. Paul speaks of his descent from that of Benjamin, Phil. 3: 5. The lineage of the other Apostles is not given.

και Joseph. Αntig. XV.3. 1, οι υπέρ Ευφράτην απωκισμένοι Ιουδαίοι Literally, perhaps, “ Jews colonized beyond the Euphrates." | Ibid. XI. 8. 5.

Ibid. XII. 3. 4.
SECOND SERIES, VOL. VII. NO. 1.

6

« PoprzedniaDalej »