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    June 4, 1902

    “Restoration from Babylon. The Wall of Jerusalem Dedicated; the Rival Worship of Samaria Established” The Signs of the Times 28, 23, pp. 3, 4.


    SOME time after the events related in the preceding article, Nehemiah made a journey to the court of the king of Persia, where he stayed several months, and then returned to Jerusalem.SITI June 4, 1902, page 3.1

    As soon as he returned, he began to arrange for a great celebration in the dedication of the wall that had at last, through such “troublous times,” been triumphantly finished. He gathered from the cities, the villages, and the ... country of Judah, priests, Levites, and ... in great numbers to bear a leading part in the dedication with gladness, both with thanksgivings, and with singing, with cymbals, ..., and with harps. And the sons of the singers gathered themselves together, both out of the plain country round about Jerusalem, and from the villages of Netophathi; also from the house of Gilgal, and out of the fields of Geba and Azmaveth: for the singers had builded them villages round about Jerusalem. And the priests and the Levites purified themselves, and purified the people, and the gates, and the wall.”SITI June 4, 1902, page 3.2

    When all had thus been “purified,” and so prepared, the day of the dedication came. There were formed two great processions of ..., priests, singers, and people who ascended the wall at opposite points, and ... round upon the top of the wall till the two processions were joined at both ends of ... forming now one continuous procession round the whole city upon the top of the wall. Then the whole united procession stood still and “gave thanks,” and “the singers sang loud, with Jezrahiah their overseer. Also that day they offered great sacrifices, and rejoiced: for God had made them rejoice with great joy: the wives also and the children rejoiced: so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard even afar off.”SITI June 4, 1902, page 3.3

    Enemies Cast Out

    During Nehemiah’s absence, the Samaritans, the enemies of the work of God, through their ... among the princes and priests in Judah and Jerusalem, had secured a foothold in Jerusalem. Eliashib the priest had allowed one of his daughters to marry that chief and persistent enemy, Tobiah the Ammonite! Not only this, ... Eliashib had actually emptied of its proper ... one of the great chambers of the temple, had fitted it up as a residence, and had ... there his new son-in-law, Tobiah the Ammonite.SITI June 4, 1902, page 3.4

    Now amid the services of the festival days of the dedication, in reading the Scriptures in the book of the law “they read in the book of Moses to the audience of the people; and therein was found written, that the Ammonite and the Moabite should not come into the congregation of God forever.... Now it came to pass, when they had heard the law, that they separated from Israel all the mixed multitude.”SITI June 4, 1902, page 3.5

    Thus there came to the attention of Nehemiah the crooked and brazen course of Eliashib the priest in his alliance with Tobiah the Ammonite, and “in preparing him a chamber in the courts of the house of God.” “And,” he says, “it grieved me sore; therefore I cast forth all the household stuff of Tobiah out of the chamber. Then I commanded, and they cleansed the chambers; and thither brought I again the vessels of the house of God, with the meat offering and the frankincense.”SITI June 4, 1902, page 3.6

    The Lord Robbed of Means and Time

    Also during Nehemiah’s absence there had been a falling away from faithfulness in bringing the tithes into the storehouse. “I perceived that the portions of the Levites had not been given them; for the Levites and the singers, that did the work, were fled everyone to his field. Then contended I with the rulers and said, Why is the house of God forsaken? And I gathered them together, and set them in their place. Then brought all Judah the tithe of the corn and the new wine and the oil into the treasuries.”SITI June 4, 1902, page 3.7

    There had been also a falling away from the proper observance of the Sabbath; indeed, with many, from any observance of the Sabbath at all; for—SITI June 4, 1902, page 3.8

    “In those days saw I in Judah some treading winepresses on the Sabbath, and bringing in sheaves, and lading asses; as also wine, grapes, and figs, and all manner of burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the Sabbath day; and I testified against them in the day wherein they sold victuals. There dwelt men of Tyre also therein, which brought fish, and all manner of ware, and sold on the Sabbath unto the children of Judah, and in Jerusalem. Then I contended with the nobles of Judah, and said unto them, What evil thing is this that ye do, and profane the Sabbath day? Did not your fathers thus, and did not our God bring all this evil upon us, and upon this city? yet ye bring more wrath upon Israel by profaning the Sabbath.SITI June 4, 1902, page 3.9

    “And it came to pass, that, when the gates of Jerusalem began to be dark before the Sabbath, I commanded that the gates should be shut, and charged that they should not be opened till after the Sabbath: and some of my servants set I at the gates, that there should no burden be brought in on the Sabbath day. So the merchants and sellers of all kind of ware lodged without Jerusalem once or twice. Then I testified against them, and said unto them, Why lodge ye about the wall? if ye do so again, I will lay hands on you. From that time forth came they no more on the Sabbath.”SITI June 4, 1902, page 3.10

    Mixed Marriages

    Encouraged by the example of the priests and others, many of the people had again fallen away to mixed marriage:—SITI June 4, 1902, page 3.11

    “In those days also saw I Jews that had married wives of Ashdod, of Ammon, and of Moab; and their children spake half in the speech of Ashdod, and could not speak in the Jews’ language; but according to the language of each people. And I contended with them, and cursed them, and smote certain of them, and plucked off their hair, and made them swear by God, saying, Ye shall not give your daughters unto their sons, nor take their daughters unto your sons, or for yourselves. Did not Solomon king of Israel sin by these things? yet among many nations was there no king like him, who was beloved of his God, and God made him king over all Israel: nevertheless even him did outlandish women cause to sin. Shall we then hearken unto you to do all this great evil, to transgress against our God in marrying strange wives?”SITI June 4, 1902, page 3.12

    We have seen that a daughter of Eliashib had been given in marriage to one of the chief enemies of the cause of God—Tobiah the Ammonite. In addition to that, one of his grandsons had married the daughter of the very chief enemy himself—Sanballat the Horonite. When it was demanded that he separate from this heathenish connection, he was so far gone in apostasy that he refused. And as the consequence, says Nehemiah, “One of the sons of Joiada, the son of Eliashib the high priest, was son-in-law to Sanballat the Horonite; therefore I chased him from me.”SITI June 4, 1902, page 3.13

    Smaritan [sic.] Worship Established

    The chasing away of this young man—his name was Manasseh—brought curious historical results. The mixture of Samaritans and Jews was now as follows: Sanballat’s daughter was married to this young Jew, Manasseh. Tobiah was married to at least one, if not two of the Jewesses. Tobiah’s son, Johanan, was also married to a Jewess. And now this company, including young Manasseh, finding themselves permanently excluded from Jerusalem and the temple and worship there, conceived a design to have a temple and worship of their own. However, so long as Artaxerxes Longimanus lived, they could do nothing, because of his fixed favor toward the temple and worship in Jerusalem. But in 425 B. C. Artaxerxes died. He was succeeded by Xerxes II., who, after forty-five days, was murdered and succeeded by his half half-brother, Sogilianus; and he in turn, after six months and fifteen days, was murdered and succeeded by his half-brother, Ochus, who reigned as Darius Nothus. To Darius Nothus Sanballat made personal application, and was successful in obtaining from him a grant to build on Mount Gerizim, near Samaria, a temple like that at Jerusalem, and to make Manasseh, his son-in-law, high priest of it.SITI June 4, 1902, page 3.14

    Sanballat having built this temple, and made Manasseh high priest of it, Samaria thenceforth became the common refuge and asylum of the refractory Jews; so that, if any among them were found guilty of violating the law, ad in eating forbidden meats, the breach of the Sabbath, or the like, and were called to an account for it, they fled to the Samaritans, and there found reception; by which means it came to pass that, after some time, the greatest part of that people were made up of apostate Jews and their descendants.... The mixing of so many Jews among them soon made a change in their religion. For whereas they had hitherto worshiped the God of Israel only in conjunction with their other gods,—that is, the gods of those nations of the East from whence they came,—after a temple was built among them, in which the daily service was constantly performed in the same manner as at Jerusalem, and the book of the law of Moses was brought to Samaria, and there publicly read to them, they soon left off worshiping their false gods, and conformed themselves wholly to the worship of the true God, according to the rule which was in that book prescribed to them.SITI June 4, 1902, page 3.15

    However, the Jews, looking on them as apostates, hated them above all the nations of the earth, so as to avoid all manner of converse and communication with them. This hatred first began from the opposition which the Samaritans made against them on their return from the Babylonish captivity, both in their rebuilding of the temple, and their repairing of the walls of Jerusalem, of which an account hath been above given; and it was afterward much increased by this apostasy of Manasseh and those who joined with him in it, and by their erecting ... an altar and a temple in opposition to theirs at Jerusalem. And all others who, at any time after fled from Jerusalem for the violation of the law, always finding reception among them, this continually further added to the fancor which the Jews had entertained against them, till at length it grew to that length that the Jews published a curse and an anathema against them, the bitterest that ever was denounced against any people. For thereby they forbade all manner of communication with them, declared all the fruits and products of their land, and everything else of theirs which was either eaten or drunk among them, to be as swine’s flesh; and prohibited all of their nation ever to taste thereof, and also excluded all of that people from ever being received as proselytes to their religion.—Prideaux.SITI June 4, 1902, page 3.16

    This is why the woman of Samaria was so surprised when Jesus asked her to give him a drink of water: and she replied, “How is it that Thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.” It also illustrates the force of that expression of the Jews to the Saviour. “Thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil,” as in their estimation to be a Samaritan and to have a devil—be possessed—were the same thing.SITI June 4, 1902, page 356.1

    [“Backsliding to Confirmed Apostasy” is the title of the instructive article to appear next week.]SITI June 4, 1902, page 356.2

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