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    The Decree of Artaxerxes

    “Now, this is the copy of the letter that the king, Artaxerxes, gave unto Ezra, the priest, the scribe, even a scribe of the words of the commandments of the Lord, and of his statutes to Israel:ASC 146.4

    “Artaxerxes, king of kings, Unto Ezra, the priest, a scribe of the law of the God of heaven, perfect peace, and at such a time.-ASC 147.1

    “I make a decree, that all they of the people of Israel, and of his priests and Levites, in my realm, which are minded of their own free will to go up to Jerusalem, go with thee. Forasmuch as thou art sent of the king, and of his seven counsellors, to inquire concerning Judah and Jerusalem, according to the law of thy God, which is in thy hand; and to carry the silver and gold, which the king and his counsellors have freely offered unto the God of Israel, whose habitation is in Jerusalem. And all the silver and gold that thou canst find in all the province of Babylon, with the free-will-offering of the people, and of the priests, offering willingly for the house of their God, which is in Jerusalem: that thou mayest buy speedily with this money, bullocks, rams, lambs, with their meat-offerings, and their drink-offerings, and offer them upon the altar of the house of your God, which is in Jerusalem. And whatsoever shall seem good to thee, and to thy brethren, to do with the rest of the silver and the gold, that do after the will of your God. The vessels also, that are given thee for the service of the house of thy God, those deliver thou before the God of Jerusalem. And whatsoever more shall be needful for the house of thy God, which thou shalt have occasion to bestow, bestow it out of the king’s treasure-house.ASC 147.2

    “And I, even I Artaxerxes the king, do make a decree to all the treasurers which are beyond the river, that whatsoever Ezra, the priest, the scribe of the law of the God of heaven, shall require of you, it be done speedily. Unto a hundred talents of silver, and to a hundred measures of wheat, and to a hundred baths of wine, and to a hundred baths of oil, and salt without prescribing how much. Whatsoever is commanded by the God of heaven, let it be diligently done, for the house of the God of heaven; for why should there be wrath against the realm of the king and his sons? Also, we certify you, that touching any of the priests and Levites, singers, porters, Nethinims, or ministers of this house of God, it shall not be lawful to impose toll, tribute, or custom, upon them. And thou, Ezra, after the wisdom of thy God, that is in thy hand, set magistrates and judges, which may judge all the people that are beyond the river, all such as know the laws of thy God; and teach ye them that know them not. And whosoever will not do the law of thy God, and the law of the king, let judgment be executed speedily upon him, whether it be unto death, or to banishment, or to confiscation of goods, or to imprisonment.” Ezra 7:11-26.ASC 148.1

    From this decree, the great majority of expositors reckon the seventy weeks of Daniel 9:24. In view of this decree, Ezra gave thanks and said: “Blessed be the Lord God of our fathers, which hath put such a thing as this in the king’s heart, to beautify the house of the Lord which is in Jerusalem.” Ezra 7:27. “And now for a little space, grace hath been showed from the Lord our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a nail in his holy place, that our God may lighten our eyes, and give us a little reviving in our bondage. For we were bondmen; yet our God hath not forsaken us in our bondage, but hath extended mercy unto us, in the sight of the kings of Persia, to give us a reviving, to set up the house of our God, and to repair the desolations thereof, and to give us a wall in Judah and in Jerusalem.... Should we again break thy commandments, and join in affinity with the people of these abominations, wouldst not thou be angry with us, till thou hadst consumed us, so that there should be no remnant nor escaping?” 9:8, 9, 14.ASC 148.2

    The prophet seems fully sensible, that should they again so displease the Lord, as to be dispersed among all nations, they could no more be restored to their own land. Consequently, all the unconditional promises of their restoration had respect to their restoration from Babylon.ASC 149.1

    “Esther was taken unto King Ahasuerus into his house-royal in the tenth month, which is the month Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign.” Esther 2:16.ASC 149.2

    “After these things did King Ahasuerus promote Haman, the son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, and advanced him, and set his seat above all the princes that were with him.... In the first month, (that is, the month Nisan,) in the twelfth year of King Ahasuerus, they cast Pur, that is, the lot, before Haman, from day to day, and from month to month, to the twelfth month, that is the month Adar.” Esther 3:1, 7. “And Haman conspired against the Jews, to destroy them in all the provinces of the kingdom; and on the thirtieth day of the first month, he despatched letters from the king, “to destroy, to kill, and to cause to perish, all Jews, both young and old, little children and women, in one day, even upon the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month Adar, and to take the spoil of them for a prey.” 3:12, 13. B. C. 453.ASC 150.1

    At the request of Esther, the queen, the king issued a counter decree, “in the third month, which is Sivan, on the three and twentieth day thereof,” giving permission to the Jews, that on “the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month Adar,” 8:9, 12, the Jews should destroy all who should assault them, which gave “the Jews rule over those that hated them.” They smote their enemies with a great slaughter, “on the thirteenth day of the month Adar; and on the fourteenth day of the same, rested they, and made it a day of feasting and gladness.” Esther 9:1-17. B. C. 452.ASC 150.2

    “It came to pass in the month Chisleu, in the twentieth year,” when Nehemiah “was in Shushan, the palace,” that he inquired of his brethren 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.” Nehemiah 1:1-3. B. C. 445.ASC 151.1

    “And it came to pass in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes,” that Nehemiah requested of the king permission to go to the city of his “fathers’ sepulchres,” to “build it.” 2:1, 5. The king granted his request, and gave him a letter to “Asaph, the keeper of the king’s forest,” to give him “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 Nehemiah should “enter into.” v. 8. So Nehemiah went up to Jerusalem, and was “governor in the land of Judah, from the twentieth year even unto the two and thirtieth year of Artaxerxes the king, that is twelve years.” 5:14. “So the wall was finished in the twenty and fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty and two days.” 6:15.ASC 151.2

    “In the two and thirtieth year of Artaxerxes, king of Babylon,” Nehemiah came again “unto the king, and after certain days, obtained leave of the king,” and “came to Jerusalem.” 13:6, 7. B. C. 433.ASC 151.3

    This is the latest date referred to in the canonical books of the Old Testament.ASC 152.1

    Malachi, the last of the prophets, prophesied subsequent to this, and soon after. His precise period is unknown. His complaints of the irreligion of the Jews is evidence that they did not, after their restoration, comply with the conditions, on the observance of which, God had promised to make their restoration from Babylon a permanent one.ASC 152.2

    A total eclipse of the sun occurred, August 3rd, in the first year of the Peloponnesian war, as recorded by Thucydides. B. C. 431.ASC 152.3

    Darius Nothus. Artaxerxes Longimanus, according to Prideaux, was succeeded by his son, Xerxes, who was murdered at the end of forty-five days, by his brother, Sogdianus, who in turn was put to death by his brother, Ochus, having reigned but six months and fifteen days. The two brothers having reigned less than a year, their time is included, in Ptolemy’s Canon, in that of Ochus. This prince changed his name to Darius, and is called by historians, Darius Nothus. His reign, including that of his brothers, according to the Canon of Ptolemy, continued nineteen years, to B. C. 404.ASC 152.4

    Artaxerxes. He was succeeded by his son, Arsaces, who, on ascending the throne, took the name of Artaxerxes. From the wonderful memory that he possessed, he is called by the Greeks, Artaxerxes Mnemon, i. e., the rememberer. His reign, according to the Canon of Ptolemy, continued forty-six years, to B. C. 358.ASC 152.5

    Ochus was his son and successor, and reigned, according to Ptolemy’s Canon, twenty-one years, to B. C. 337.ASC 153.1

    Arses. He was succeeded by his youngest son, Arogus, or Arses. He was murdered by Bagoas,-an Egyptian eunuch, who had also murdered Ochus, and all of Arses’ brothers;-his reign, according to the Canon of Ptolemy, continued two years, to B. C. 335ASC 153.2

    Darius. Bagoas, after the murder of Arses, placed on the throne Codomanus, a descendant of Nothus. On ascending the throne, he assumed the name of Darius, being the third of that name who occupied the Persian throne. In the second year of this Darius, Alexander the Great crossed the Hellespont for the invasion of Asia; and, with only 30,000 foot, and 5000 horse, he encountered the Persian army at the river Granicus, and gained a victory over more than five times his number. In his third year, Darius, with an army of 600,000, was defeated by Alexander, at Issus, in Cilicia. The next year, Darius, with about a million of men, was defeated by Alexander, in the decisive battle of Arbela, and was soon after killed, having reigned, according to Ptolemy’s Canon, four years, to B. C. 331.ASC 153.3

    The battle of Arbela marks the end of the Persian, and the succession of the Grecian empire. The time of this battle is marked with absolute certainty; for Plutarch records an eclipse of the moon eleven days before that battle. By astronomical calculation it is found that the moon was eclipsed in the meridian of Arbela, on the night of September 20th, B. C. 331, and A. J. P. 4383; so that this battle must have been fought on the first of October of that year.ASC 153.4

    Alexander. According to the Canon of Ptolemy, Alexander’s reign continued eight years; but it is there dated from nearly a year previous to the battle of Arbela, and therefore it extends only to B. C. 324.ASC 154.1

    Alexander was succeeded by his illegitimate son, Aridæus, who changed his name to Philip, and reigned, according to Ptolemy’s Canon, seven years, to B. C. 317.ASC 154.2

    After the death of Aridæus, the only one who bore the title of king was Alexander Ægus. He, however, possessed no power; for after the death of Alexander the Great, the governments of the empire were divided among the chief commanders of the army, who took the title of governors at first, but finally that of kings. Soon after they were settled in their provinces, they warred among themselves, till, after some years, all were destroyed but four-Casander, who had Macedon and Greece; Lysimachus, who had Thrace and the parts of Asia on the Hellespont and Bosphorus; Ptolemy, who had Egypt, Lybia, Arabia, Palestine, and Cœle-Syria; and Seleucus, who had the rest of Alexander’s dominion.ASC 154.3

    “Porphyry tells us that Seleucus was made king of Syria by Ptolemy, when he came against Demetrius Poliorcetes, and that he then began to enlarge his dominions by conquest. His kingdom is dated from Olym. 117, y. 1. That year began at the new moon nearest the summer solstice, A. J. P. 4402.” Dr. Jarvis. B. C. 312.ASC 155.1

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