QUESTIONS ON LESSON XII
1. What is meant by "a Jew"?
2. How did government of Hebrews by a Hebrew come to an end in Palestine for the first time since Saul's day?
3. What was the first political event to arouse the exiled Jews from their depression?
4. Compare Ezekiel and Daniel in their personality, position, and audience.
5. When Cyrus captured Babylon in 539, what did he do for the Jews, and how came he to do it?
6. How many Jews returned to Palestine under Cyrus, and what was their uppermost motive?
The Jewish State Under Persia
Ezra, Chapters 3 to 10; Esther; Nehemiah; Haggai; Zechariah; Malachi
For two centuries Judea, like the rest of western Asia, was under the domination of the Persians, whose great royal names, Cyrus, Darius, Xerxes, Artaxerxes, are familiar to every student of history. The Old Testament spans one of those two centuries of Persian rule, 539-430, while for the other century, 430-332, we are dependent for the little we know about the Jews upon some documents recently discovered in Egypt, an occasional notice in classical historians, and the brief narrative of Josephus, the Jewish historian of the first Christian century.
Even in the century covered by the books of the Bible there are long stretches of silence separating periods that are fairly reported. First comes the time of Zerubbabel and Jeshua, the leaders, civil and religious, under whom the Jews returned and erected the Temple. This story carries us, though with a seventeen-year gap in its midst, from 538, the year after Cyrus took Babylon, to 515, the sixth year of Darius the Great, and is recorded in the first six chapters of the book of Ezra. To help us in understanding this time we have also the prophecies of Haggai and Zechariah, though the last six chapters of Zechariah belong to another age.
After the completion of the new Temple the curtain falls on Judea and, save for a single verse, Ezra 4:6, we hear no more of it for fifty-