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cut it short above fifty years of the general account, to fit it to the place they have provided for it. To this end they reject the account of the Chaldeans, Grecians, and Romans, concerning the time of its continuance, as fabulous, and give us a new arbitrary account of the reign of those kings whom they will allow. But independent of the extraordinary liberty required to warrant such a procedure, it is destitute of all probability. The word decree, or commandment, mentioned to Daniel is, that for the building of Jerusalem; that is, the restoring of it into a condition of rule and government, and not merely the setting up of houses. Consequent to this, their “building of the walls” also, for the defence of the people is mentioned. Of this it is said, that it should fall out in a troublesome time, or a time of straits, as accordingly it fell out in the days of Nehemiah. In the whole, there is not the least mention of building the temple, which, had it been intended, could not, I suppose, have been omitted. But in the decree of Cyrus, the principal thing mentioned and aimed at is, the re-edification of the temple, the city, and the walls thereof, being not spoken of, Ezra i, passim. It seems, then, evident, that the decree mentioned by Daniel, for the building of the city and walls, and that given out by Cyrus, for the building of the temple, were divers. Besides, this decree of Cyrus, although foretold long before, and made famous, because it was the entrance into the people's return and settlement, took effect for so short a space of time, being obstructed within less than three years, and utterly frustrated within four or five, that it is not likely to be the date of this prophecy, which seems to take place from some good settlement of the people. That alone which is pleaded with any color for this decrce of Cyrus, is the prediction recorded, Isa. xliv,
28. It is prophesied of him, that he should say to “Jerusalem, thou shalt be built; and to the temple, thy
foundations shall be laid." But it is neither here foretold, that Cyrus should make any decree for the building of Jerusalem, or that it should be done in his days, as indeed it was not until an hundred years after, as it is evident from the story in Nehemiah. The whole intention of this prophecy is, that he should cause the people to be set at liberty from their captivity, and give them leave to return to Jerusalem, which he accordingly did, and thereupon, both the building of the city and temple ensued, though not without the intervention of other decrees. The account therefore, before laid down, being established, it is certain enough, that the decree mentioned by Gabriel, from the going forth whereof the seventy weeks are to be dated, was not that of the first of Cyrus, for the return of the captivity and building of the temple. We must, therefore, inquire for some other decree, from whence to date the weeks.
$22. The second decree of the kings of Persia, in reference to the Jews, was that of Darius, made in his second year, when the work of the building of the temple was carried on through the prophecy of Haggai and Zechariah, mentioned in Ezra vi, granted by Darius, upon appeal made to him from the neighboring governors; and it was a mere revival of the decree of Cyrus, the roll whereof was found in Achmetha, in the province of the Medes, ver. 2. See Hag. i, 12; ii, 10; Zech. i, 1.
Upon the roll of the kings of Persia, we find three called by the name of Darius, as the Jews term him. (1.) Darius Hysdaspes, who succeeded Cambyses, by the election of the princes of Persia, upon the killing of Smerdes Magus, the usurper. (2.) Darius
Nothus, who succeeded Artaxerxes Longimanus. (3.) Darius Codomanus, in whom the Persian empire had its period, by Alexander the Great. That the last of these can be no way concerned in the decree, is notorious; the two others are disputed. Most learned men grant, that Darius Hysdaspes was the author of this decree; and indeed that it was so, at least, that it can be ascribed to no other Darius, we shall soon undeniably prove. And it is not unlikely that he was inclined to this favor and moderation towards the Jews, by his general design to relieve men from under the oppressions that were upon them during the reign of Cambyses, and to renew the acts of Cyrus, their first emperor, who was renounced amongst them, to ingratiate himself with mankind, and confirm himself in that kingdom, whereto he came not by succession. And it is not improbable, that this was he who was the husband of Esther. Now Cyrus reigned after his first decree three years; Cambyses with Smerdes eight; and Darius, before he issued out this decree, two years; in all thirteen years. Now, deduct this from five hundred and sixty-two, and there yet remains five hundred and forty-nine years, which exceeds the number of years inquired after by fifty-nine years. So that neither can this be the commandment intended; not to mention, that this command was a mere renovation, or a new acknowledgment of the decree of Cyrus, about the rebuilding of the temple; and so, doubtless, was not designed as the signal epocha of the time here determined.
The great Scaliger, who would date the weeks from this decree of Darius, knowing that the time would not suit with the reign of Darius Hysdaspes, contends that Nothus, who succeeded Longimanus, was the author of it; and extends the whole time to the destruction of the city and temple; that space of time, according to his computation, being elapsed from the second year of Darius. But the truth is, as may be seen from our former account, that from the second year of Darius Nothus, to the destruction of the city, was but four hundred and eighty years. Besides, we have before proved from the text, that the time determined was to expire in the death of the Messiah. Neither is it consistent with the prophecy of Jeremiah, that the temple should be waste so long a space; that is, about one hundred and seventy years. Again, Haggai plainly declares, that when the work of the temple was carrying on, in the second year of Darius, many were yet alive, who had seen the first temple, Hag. ii, 3. As multitudes were upon the laying of its foundation, in the days of Cyrus, Ezra ïi, 12. But this was impossible, had it been in the days of Nothus, a hundred and sixty or seventy years after it was destroyed. It appears, then, that Darius Nothus was not the author of the decree mentioned; as also that the times of the weeks cannot be dated from the second year of Darius Hystaspes, who was the author of it.
$23. After this, there is mention made of two other commands, or decrees, relating to the temple and people, both granted by the same Artaxerxes, one in the seventh
year of his reign, to Ezra, chap. vii, 7; the other in the twentieth year of his reign, to Nehemiah, chap. ii, 1. And from one of these must the account inquired after be dated. Now, supposing that one of these decrees must be intended, it is evident, that Longimanus, and not Memor, was the author of them; for from the seventh year of Memor, which was the second of the ninety-fifth olympiad, to the eighteenth year of Tiberius Cæsar, wherein our Savior suffered, being the third of the two hundred and second olympiad, are only four hundred and twenty-eight years, sixty-two short of the whole. Now, these sixty-two years added to the beginning of the account, from the seventh of Memor, fall in exactly on the seventh of Longimanus; from the seventh of Longimanus, then, to the seventh of Memor, are sixty-two years, and from the seventh of Memor, to the eighteenth of Tiberius, are four hundred and twenty-eight; in the whole four hundred and ninety, the number inquired after. *
And there wants not reason to induce me to fix on this decree, rather than any other, being, indeed, the most famous, and most useful to the people of all the rest. By what means it was obtained, is not recorded. Evident it is, however, that Ezra had great favor with the king, and that he had convinced him of the greatness and power of that God, whom he served, Ezra viii, 22. Besides it was not a mere proclamation of liberty, like that of Cyrus, which was renewed by Darius; but a decree, a law made by the king and his seven counsellors, Ezra vii, 14; the highest and most irrefragable legislative power amongst the Medes and Persians. Moreover, together with the decree Ezra had a formal commission; he is said not only to have leave to go, but to be “sent” by the king and his council. Besides, the former decrees barely respected the temple; and it seems, that in the execution of them the people had done little more than building the bare fabric; all things, as to the true order of the
* From the seventh of Longimanus, to the
seventh of Memor From the seventh of Memor, to the eigh
teenth of Tiberius
From the going forth of the decree, in the
seventh year of Artaxerxes Longimanus,