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    April 2, 1902

    “Restoration from Babylon. The Success of the Samaritans” The Signs of the Times 28, 14, p. 3.

    BY ALONZO TREVIER JONE

    AT the death of Cyrus king of Persia, Cambyses his son, the Ahasuerus of Ezra 4:6, immediately succeeded to the throne of the empire. The Samaritans who had so persistently carried on their work of obstruction by hired counselors and otherwise “all the days of Cyrus,” continued it all the days of Cambyses—about seven years.SITI April 2, 1902, page 3.1

    At the very beginning of his reign, in addition to the work of their hired counsellors, the Samaritans took the bold step of presenting to Cambyses, the son of Cyrus, a formal and written accusation against the Jews: “In the reign of Ahasuerus, in the beginning of his reign, wrote they unto him an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem.” Ezra 4:6.SITI April 2, 1902, page 3.2

    There is no known record that any notice at all was taken of their accusation. Even if any notice was taken of it, it is certain that their efforts were still in vain. The victory gained over them in the three weeks’ contest at the Persian court in the first month of the third year of Cyrus, still held all the days of his son Cambyses. This shows that there was real meaning in Gabriel’s words that at the end of the three weeks’ contest at the court of Persia he held the victory with not only the king, singular, but plural,—with the kings of Persia. From this it is plain that Cambyses, the heir apparent to the throne, was in that council through that three weeks’ contest, and therefore when the contest was ended and the victory was kept, it was victory not only as respected Cyrus and the time being, but also respecting Cambyses and the years to come. The victory was kept with the kings of Persia.SITI April 2, 1902, page 3.3

    There was a second son of Cyrus, named Smerdis; but Cambyses caused him to be secretly murdered. Indeed, this was accomplished with so much secrecy that the great body of the people believed that he was still alive. This gave opportunity for conspiracy and the rise of a usurper, whose real name was Gomates, but who claimed before the people to be Smerdia, the son of Cyrus. This occurred at the capital of Persia while Cambyses was absent on his expedition in the conquest of Egypt. The original account runs thus:—SITI April 2, 1902, page 3.4

    Cambyses the son of Cyrus was king.... This Cambyses had a brother, named Smerdis (Bardiga); they had the same mother and the same father. Afterward, this Cambyses killed Smerids. When Cambyses killed Smerdis, the people did not know that Smerdis was killed. Then Cambyses went to Egypt. The people became bad; and many falsehoods grew up in the provinces, as well as in Persia, as in Media, as in the other lands. And then a man, a Magian, named Gomates, from Pasargade, near the mount named Arakadris, there he arose. On the 14th day of the month Vlyakhna, thus arose: To the people he told lies, and said, “I am Smerids, the son of Cyrus, the brother of Cambyses.” Then all the people revolted from Cambyses, went over to him, and the Persians, and the Medes, and the other nations. He seized the kingdom. On the ninth day of the month Garmapada he took the royalty from Cambyses.... Gomates the Magian deprived Cambyses as well of the Persians, as of the Medians, as of the other nations; he did according to his own will, and seized the royalty over them.—Darius, in “Records of the Past,” Old Series, vol. VII., pp. 89, 90.SITI April 2, 1902, page 3.5

    Cambyses, returning with his army from Egypt, went as far as Syria, and was there met by one of the many heralds whom Gomates had sent into all the empire publishing the “proclamation to the troops that henceforth they were to obey Smerdis, the son of Cyrus, and not Cambyses.” Cambyses, believing now that his secret murderers of Smerdis had really played him false; and that thus Smerdis was really alive and reigning in the capital, immediately killed himself (Darius): “having reigned, in all, seven years and five months, and left no issue behind him, male or female.”—Herodotus. This was the end of July, 522 B.C.SITI April 2, 1902, page 3.6

    As before stated, Gomates, this false Smerdis, was a Magian. His usurpation was a part of the conspiracy of the Magian priests to make predominate the Median element in the mixed national religion of Media and Persia. And though Gomates the Magian reigned as Smerdis the Persians, yet he was but the tool of the Magians to swing back the predominant element in the imperial religion from the Persian to the original Median. The difference was more sectarian and merely priestly, than fundamental and popular; but it furnished an opportunity that was instantly seized by the Samaritans and their hired counselors to make effective their determination to stop the work on the temple at Jerusalem.SITI April 2, 1902, page 3.7

    Accordingly, no sooner was it known in Palestine that the new king reigned, than the Samaritans wrote to him a new and extended accusation against the Jews. For this Gomates, the false Smerdis, was the Artaxerxes of Ezra 4:7-23.SITI April 2, 1902, page 3.8

    “In the days of Artaxerxes wrote Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel, and the rest of their companions, unto Artaxerxes king of Persia; and the writing of the letter was written in the Syrian tongue, and interpreted in the Syrian tongue. Rehum the chancellor and Shimshai the scribe wrote a letter against Jerusalem to Artaxerxes the king in this sort:—SITI April 2, 1902, page 3.9

    “Then wrote Rehum the chancellor, and Shimshai the scribe, and the rest of their companions; the Dinaites, the Apharsathchites, the Tarpelites, the Apharsites, the Archevites, the Babylonians, the Susanchites, the Dehavites, and the Elamites, and the rest of the nations whom the great and noble Asnapper brought over, and set in the cities of Samaria, and the rest that are on this side the river, and at such a time.... Thy servants the men on this side the river, and at such a time. Be it known unto the king, that the Jews which came up from thee to us are come unto Jerusalem, building the rebellious and the bad city, and have set up the walls thereof, and joined the foundations. Be it known now unto the king, that, if this city be builded, and the walls set up again, then will they not pay toll, tribute, and custom, and so thou shalt endamage the revenue of the kings. Now because we have maintenance from the king’s palace, and it was not meet for us to see the king’s dishonor, therefore have we sent and certified the king; that search may be made in the book of the records of thy fathers: so shalt thou find in the book of the records, and know that this city is a rebellious city, and hurtful unto kings and provinces, and that they have moved sedition within the same of old time; for which cause was this city destroyed. We certify the king that, if this city be builded again, and the walls thereof set up, by this means thou shalt have no portion on this side the river.”SITI April 2, 1902, page 3.10

    That letter is a most subtle and deceptive mixture of truth and falsehood. It was true that the city of Jerusalem had in old time been rebellious and seditious to the eastern kings, and that because of that, the city was destroyed. It was true that the imperial records at Babylon would confirm all this. But it was not in any sense true that such was the intention in now rebuilding the city, or that such would be the result of its rebuilding. This attributed intention of the Jews, and this surmised result of the rebuilding of the city, was nothing else than the revealing of their own secret purpose, when at the very first they offered to join the Jews and help in the building of that very city; and which they would have carried out to the full as soon as the city should have been finished, as certainly as they had been allowed to join in the building of the city.SITI April 2, 1902, page 3.11

    Such a subtle mixture of lies and truth would have been well calculated to deceive any new king; and when it came to the false Smerdis, the tool of the reactionary priests, it only the more readily had its intended effect. “Then sent the king an answer unto Rehum the chancellor, and to Shimshai the scribe, and to the rest of their companions that dwell in Samaria, and unto the rest beyond the river:—SITI April 2, 1902, page 3.12

    “Peace, and at such a time. The letter which ye sent unto us hath been plainly read before me. And I commanded, and search hath been made, and it is found that this city of old time hath made insurrection against kings, and that rebellion and sedition have been made therein. There have been mighty kings also over Jerusalem, which have ruled over all countries beyond the river; and toll, tribute, and custom, was paid unto them. Give ye now commandment to cause these men to cease, and that this city be not builded, until another commandment shall be given from me. Take heed now that ye fail not to do this: why should damage grow to the hurt of the kings?”SITI April 2, 1902, page 3.13

    This letter was of course exceedingly gratifying to the rebellious, seditious, and officious Samaritans. Accordingly, “when the copy of king Artaxerxes’ letter was read before Rehum, and Shimshai the scribe, and their companions, they went up in haste to Jerusalem unto the Jews, and made them to cease by force and power.”SITI April 2, 1902, page 3.14

    “Then ceased the work of the house of God which is at Jerusalem.” Then the Samaritans laughed, and congratulated one another, and strutted, and rode around among the Jews, asserting their power. But even in the most exalted moments they never dreamed of what it really was over which they were so gleeful and so perfectly satisfied. They had no idea of what it was in reality into which they had so persistently, and at last so triumphantly, pushed themselves. In about six months there was another turn in imperial affairs. In the eighth month of his reign the false Smerdis, Gomates the Magian, was slain by Darius the Persian and six companions, and Darius the Persian, of ancient kingly race and descent, reigned in the Medo-Persian Empire. The Magian scheme was annihilated; the Persian element was once more predominant; the tide turned again in favor of the Jews, the rebuilding of the temple and the city went on, and by the power which they had invoked the Samaritans were compelled to help in the good work. This was exceedingly galling to them; but they had persistently pushed themselves into it, and there they must stay; they had been exceedingly glad when the power which they had invoked worked altogether their way; they could not fairly complain when that same power worked altogether the other way.SITI April 2, 1902, page 3.15

    (The next article is “The Work of Haggai and Zechariah.”)SITI April 2, 1902, page 3.16

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