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    May 14, 1902

    “Restoration from Babylon. The Third Return” The Signs of the Times 28, 20, pp. 4, 5.

    BY ALONZO TREVIER JONE

    FROM the time of the arrival of Ezra at Jerusalem and his reformatory work done there, as recorded in Ezra 7-10, unto the next recorded event in the history—Nehemiah 1:1—was thirteen years; from the seventh year of Artaxerxes Longimanus to the twentieth year of the same king.SITI May 14, 1902, page 4.1

    It seems that the efforts of Ezra were confined to moral and ecclesiastical reforms; and that in all these thirteen years nothing was done toward rebuilding the wall and city of Jerusalem; for it was the news that that place was still a ruin that stirred up Nehemiah to the determination to go himself to Jerusalem. As he wrote:—SITI May 14, 1902, page 4.2

    “It came to pass in the month Chisleu, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the palace, that Hanani, one of my brethren, came, he and certain men of Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews that had escaped, which were left of the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem. And they said unto me, The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also [is] broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire.SITI May 14, 1902, page 4.3

    “And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven, and said:—SITI May 14, 1902, page 4.4

    “I beseech thee, O Lord God of heaven, the great and terrible God, that keepeth covenant and mercy for them that love Him and observe His commandments: let Thine ear now be attentive, and Thine eyes open, that Thou mayest hear the prayer of thy servant, which I pray before Thee now, day and night, for the children of Israel thy servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinned against thee: both I and my father’s house have sinned. We have dealt very corruptly against thee, and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the judgments, which Thou commandedst Thy servant Moses. Remember, I beseech Thee, the word that Thou commandedst Thy servant Moses, saying, If ye transgress, I will scatter you abroad among the nations: but if ye turn unto Me, and keep My commandments, and do them; though there were of you cast out unto the uttermost part of the heaven, yet will I gather them from thence, and will bring them unto the place that I have chosen to set My name there. Now these are Thy servants and Thy people, whom Thou hast redeemed by Thy great power, and by Thy strong hand. O Lord, I beseech Thee, let now Thine ear be attentive to the prayer of Thy servant, and to the prayer of Thy servants, who desire to fear Thy name: and prosper, I pray Thee, Thy servant this day, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.”—SITI May 14, 1902, page 4.5

    Artaxerxes Longimanus, king of Persia.SITI May 14, 1902, page 4.6

    Nehemiah Permitted to Go.

    Nehemiah was cupbearer to king Artaxerxes Longimanus; and at this time was with the king in the royal palace in Susa, the capital of the province of Elam. He spent about four months—from the month Chisleu, the ninth month, till “in the month Nisan,” the first month—in praying, and fasting, and mourning, before he received open evidence of mercy and favor “in the sight of this man,” the king Artaxerxes Longimanus. By this time his true sorrow for the desolations of Jerusalem and the consequent retarding of the work of God, so showed itself upon him that it could be noticed. And as he fulfilled his office of cupbearer to the king, and “took up the wine, and gave it unto the king,” his sadness was noticed by the king.SITI May 14, 1902, page 4.7

    Then the king asked him, “Why is thy countenance sad, seeing thou art not sick? this is nothing but sorrow of heart.” Nehemiah answered, “Let the king live forever: why should not my countenance be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ sepulchers, lieth waste, and the gates thereof are consumed with fire?”SITI May 14, 1902, page 4.8

    Then said the king, “For what dost thou make request?” And Nehemiah, standing in the presence of the king, and in the very act of bearing the cup to the king—even standing there—“prayed to the God of heaven.” And having darted up his prayer to God, he said to the king, “If it please the king, and if thy servant have found favor in thy sight, that thou wouldst send me unto Judah, unto the city of my fathers’ sepulchers, that I may build it.” The king said “(the queen also sitting by him), For how long shall thy journey be? and when wilt thou return? So it pleased the king to send me; and I set him a time.”SITI May 14, 1902, page 4.9

    The Royal Grants.

    “Moreover I said unto the king, If it please the king, let letters be given me to the governors beyond the river, that they may convey me over till I come into Judah; and a letter unto Asaph the keeper of the king’s forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the palace which appertained to the house, and for the wall of the city, and for the house that I shall enter into. And the king granted me, according to the good hand of my God upon me.”SITI May 14, 1902, page 4.10

    Yet more than this, the king appointed Nehemiah governor of the province of Judah; and sent with him captains and troops of the imperial army to escort him to Jerusalem. The Samaritans were still as envious, and as much opposed to the work of God in Jerusalem as at the first return from the captivity. The principal men of the Samaritans now were Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite, and Geshem or Gashmu the Arabian. When these men heart that Nehemiah the Jew had come, with the commission, the honor, and the support of the king of Persia, they were greatly perplexed; “it grieved them exceedingly that there was come a man to seek the welfare of the children of Israel.”SITI May 14, 1902, page 4.11

    When Nehemiah had come to Jerusalem, and had been there three days, he spent a night in viewing the condition of ruin in which the city still lay. Then he had the priests, and the nobles, and the rulers, and others, assemble; and to them he said, “Ye see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lieth waste, and the gates thereof are burned with fire; come, and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach.” He also told them of the hand of God that was good upon him; and also of the words which Artaxerxes had spoken to him. And they answered heartily, “Let us rise up and build.” And so “they strengthened their hands for this good work.”SITI May 14, 1902, page 4.12

    The “Troubles Times.”

    As soon as Sanballat, and Tobiah, and Geshem heard that the Jews had begun again to build, they laughed them to scorn, and despised them, and said, “What is this thing that ye do? will ye rebel against the king?” And Nehemiah answered as did Zerubbabel and Joshua at the first restoration: “The God of heaven, He will prosper us; therefore we His servants will arise and build; but ye have no portion, nor right, nor memorial, in Jerusalem.”SITI May 14, 1902, page 4.13

    The people were divided into forty-two companies. These companies were distributed round the city the whole length of the compass of the wall, each company to build a portion of the wall. The work was entered upon so heartily that even the women were engaged, tho certain of the nobles of the Tekoites “put not their necks to the work of their Lord.”SITI May 14, 1902, page 4.14

    When Sanballat heard that the work of building the wall went busily on, “he was wroth, and took great indignation, and mocked the Jews. And he spake before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, What do these feeble Jews? will they fortify themselves? will they sacrifice? will they make an end in a day? will they revive the stones out of the heaps of the rubbish which are burned?” Tobiah the Ammonite was standing by when Sanballat snapped forth these ironical inquiries, and Tobiah answered in kind: “Even that which they build, if a fox go up, he shall even break down their stone wall.” But the work went on so prosperously that soon the whole wall was built and was joined together, to half the height unto which it was to be built.SITI May 14, 1902, page 4.15

    Sanballat and his Samaritans, finding that their prognostications were a mistake, and that a good solid wall was actually going up, “were very wroth, and conspired all of them together to come and to fight against Jerusalem, and to hinder it. Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch against them day and night, because of them.” The courage of some began to wane, and they said, “The strength of the bearers of burdens is decayed, and there is much rubbish; so that we are not able to build the wall.” And the adversaries, the Samaritans, said, “They shall not know, neither see, till we come in the midst among them, and slay them, and cause the work to cease.” And even among the Jews in the country there were sympathizers with the Samaritans. These came ten times to Nehemiah and the workers on the wall, with the evil advice, “From all place ye must return to us, for they [the Samaritans] will be upon you.”SITI May 14, 1902, page 4.16

    Since a surprise by secret and sudden attack was thus planned by the Samaritans, Nehemiah armed all the people, men, women, and children, wit swords, and spears, and bows, and stood constantly on such watchfulness that the enemies found that their plot was known, and they could not execute their planned surprise, and that “God had brought their counsel to naught.” Being thus delivered from the immediate danger, the people returned all of them “to the wall, every one unto his work.” And from that time forth half of the governor’s imperial guard wrought in the work, and the other half held the spears, shields, bows, and breast-plates of both. And of those who built on the wall, and carried the material, “every one with one of his hands wrought in the work, and with the other hand held a weapon.” And the builders “every one had his sword girded by his side, and so builded.”SITI May 14, 1902, page 4.17

    Nehemiah had the trumpeter stand constantly by his side, to sound the alarm; and he said to all the people:—SITI May 14, 1902, page 4.18

    “The work is great and large, and we are separated upon the wall, one far from another. In what place therefore ye hear the sound of the trumpet, resort ye thither unto us: our God shall fight for us. So we labored in the work: and half of them held the spears from the rising of the morning till the stars appeared. Likewise at the same time said I unto the people, Let every one with his servant lodge within Jerusalem, that in the night they may be a guard to us, and labor on the day. So neither I, nor my brethren, nor my servants, nor the men of the guard which followed me, none of us put off our clothes, saving that every one put them off for washing.”SITI May 14, 1902, page 4.19

    Thus the work of building the city and the wall went steadily onward, tho truly, as the angel had said to Daniel, “even in troublous times.”SITI May 14, 1902, page 308.1

    [The next article is called “The Year of God against Unbrotherliness.”]SITI May 14, 1902, page 308.2

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