The Postexilic History of Israel. VII.

By Professor Willis J Beecher, D.D.,

Auburn, N. Y.



The sources for the history.—These are Neh. 12:27-13:31;1 I Chron. 9:10-34; Malachi; Josephus, and here and there a fragment of tradition. For the interval of more than 260 years, from the time when Nehemiah returned to the king, B. C. 433, to the Maccabaean wars, we have only very meagre information.

The basis of the chronology.—We start from a date that is well known, but pass at once into a region of history where all dates are matters of inference or conjecture. It is necessary, therefore, in marking out a basis from which dates are to be established, to cover a wider interval than is covered by our subject.

B. C. 464-424 are the 41 years of Artaxerxes Longimanus.

B. C. 423-405 are the 19 years of Darius Nothus.

B. C. 404-359 are the 46 years of Artaxerxes Mnemon.

B. C. 358-338 are the 2 years of Artaxerxes Ochus.

B. C. 337-336 are the 2 years of Arogus.

B. C. 335-332 are the 4 years of Darius Codomannus.

B. C. 331-324 are the 8 years of Alexander the Great.

The events. Nehemiah's absence and his return to Jerusalem. Nehemiah's first year of active operations was probably the twenty-first year of Artaxerxes, B. C. 444, and may be conjectured to have been the year of release, the year in which, according to the law, debts were to be remitted, and the law was to be read to men, women and children, at the feast of Tabernacles.2 In 433 B. C., the thirty-second of Artaxerxes, Nehemiah returned to the king, after an administration of twelve years, Neh. 13:6; 5:14. The lack of his influence was at once felt in Judea. Things began to go badly. There was a manifest defection from the reforms that had been wrought. Ezra was still living, and at Jerusalem, but had not the gifts of leadership to make him equal to the occasion. The income of the temple servants fell off, and they neglected their duties in order to earn a living.3 The party that favored intimate relations with foreigners resumed much of its power. Eliashib the high priest gave Tobiah the Ammonite the use of an apartment in the temple, the apartment having become vacant through the neglect to bring in the offerings, 13:4, 5. From this fact, from the later condition of things mentioned in 13:23 sq., and from Mal. 2:1-16, we may probably infer that the practice of foreign marriages began again ("a second time" Mal. 2:13) among men high in position, to the dishonor, in some instances, of Jewish wives previously married, Mal. 2:14, 15, 16. In the circumstances, the presence of Nehemiah in Jerusalem was felt to be a necessity, and he "I earnestly asked "4 leave to return, as being the only man who could successfully manage affairs there.

The duration of his absence is a matter of conjecture, but it cannot have been very long. The word yamim, 13:6 may indicate a definite period of one year, so that his return is to be dated in 432 B. C., or the public reading of the law, 13:I, may indicate the year of release, fourteen years after 444 B. C., that is B. C. 430.5

The dedication of the wall.—The gathering of tithes in connection with the dedication of the wall seems to indicate that this occurred at the same season of the year with the feast of Tabernacles, and the presence of women and children at the public services, together with the reading of the law, favor the conjecture that it was at the time of the feast itself.6 From this it appears that Nehemiah returned from the king at some time during the earlier part of the year. He found Eliashib and Tobiah too strongly intrenched in their position to permit him to make an immediate attack upon them. So he entered upon preparations for making the approaching feast of Tabernacles more than usually impressive, by arranging that there should then be an imposing dedication of the wall.7 To this end, he collected the scattered temple servants, the Levites, Nethinim, gatekeepers, singers,8 and got them into training. To accomplish this, he pushed the matter of the payment of the dues for their support, 12:44 sq.; 13:11 sq., etc. Then followed the dedication, with its inspiring pageantry, 12:2 27 sq. Nehemiah took advantage of the enthusiasm thus aroused, and of the reading of the law, to secure a renewed separation from foreigners, the expulsion of Tobiah from the temple, and the adoption of efficient measures for collecting the dues of the temple servants, 13:1 sq.

Malachi.—If we suppose that the prophecy of Malachi was uttered by Ezra, or by Nehemiah, or by a prophet named Malachi, in support of this movement for renewing the dignity of the temple worship, and enforcing separation from foreigners, we shall have a theory of the book that will fit very minutely. It rebukes the priests for their lack of fidelity and fortitude, 1:6-2:9; the priests and people for their foreign marriages, and especially for the unfaithfulness to earlier marriages thus occasioned, 2:10-16; and all classes for their disobedience and bad skepticism, 12:17 sq. Especially, without retracting its rebuke to the priests for their mercenary spirit, and their dissatisfaction with the table that Jehovah set for them (1:10, 7, 12, etc.), it urges upon Judah to bring all the tithes into the storehouse, 3:8, io. And all this it enforces by an appeal to the doctrine that the prophets had then already been preaching for centuries, the doctrine of the Day of Jehovah.

The death of Ezra.—Ezra participated in the dedication of the wall, Neh. 12:36, and this is the last mention of him in the Bible. In Neh. 13:13 mention is made of Zadok the scribe, and as he and Ezra are the only men who are called "the scribe " in these books, we raise the question whether Zadok was the successor of Ezra. Later tradition has much to say of Ezra, but nothing, perhaps, that more deserves attention than the statement of Josephus that he "died an old man, and was buried in a magnificent manner at Jerusalem," Ant. XI. v. 5.

The succession of high priests.—These were Joshua, Joiakim, Eliashib, Joiada, Jonathan (otherwise called Johanan), and Jaddua, Neh. 12:10-I et al. According to Eusebius and the Alexandrian Chronicles (see, for example, the articles on Joiada, Jonathan, Jaddua, in Smith's Bible Dictionary), Joiada was high priest forty years, Jonathan thirty-two, and Jaddua twenty. According to Josephus Ant. XI. viii. 7, Jaddua died at about the same time with Alexander the Great. Alexander died B. C. 324. If we accept these numerals, we obtain the following dates. Eliashib, who was high priest when Nehemiah first came to Jerusalem, was succeeded by Joiada about 416 B. C., that is, about the eighth year of Darius Nothus. Joiada was succeeded by Jonathan about 376 B. C., that is about the twenty-ninth year of Artaxerxes Mnemon. Jaddua succeeded Jonathan about 344 B. C., that is, about the fifteenth year of Artaxerxes Ochus. The evidence for these dates is by no means perfect, but there seems to be sufficient proof that they are not many years out of the way.

Events of the reign of Darius Nothus, B. C. 424-405.—We might naturally expect that Nehemiah and his followers would be less in favor with the successor of Artaxerxes than with himself. This gives a coloring of probability to the tradition handed down through Josephus, that Darius made Sanballat satrap in Samaria, provided the Darius of the tradition be Nothus.9 And however this may be, it appears from Neh. 12:10-26 that a registration of priests and Levites was made during this reign, though it was not completed till the succeeding reign.10

The duration of Nehemiah's second administration.—From Neh. 12:36 compared with 12:23, we naturally infer that the period of time known as " the days of Nehemiah the governor and of Ezra the priest the scribe " extended " up to the days of Johanan the son of Eliashib," in other words, that Nehemiah's administration lasted until some time in the pontificate of Johanan. That began, as we have seen, somewhere about 376 B. C. There is no strong improbability in this, and it is confirmed by several circumstances. It has been often noticed that the accounts seem to indicate that Nehemiah was a very young man at the opening of his public career. If he was twenty years old B. C. 444, that would make him eighty-eight in B. C. 376. If these data be accepted, Nehemiah's career was a long one, yet not so long but that it has many parallels in history. There is no improbability in the idea that he lived till Johanan's time. And among the items of confirmatory evidence are the following. Josephus says that he came to a great age. In 2 Mac. 1:23, it is taken for granted that Nehemiah and Jonathan (apparently high priest, and therefore the same with Johanan) were well known to have been contemporary.11 The Baba Batra attributes to Nehemiah the completing of the books of Chronicles, and some of the genealogies in I Chron. are carried forward to about the times of the high priest Johanan. The book of Nehemiah is ostensibly written by Nehemiah in the first person, but brings its contents up to the same date. If the marriage referred to in Neh. 13:28 is that of Manasseh and Nicaso, as described by Josephus (see below,) then Nehemiah lived till Jonathan the high priest had a son grown and married. Of these and similar items of evidence, no one is singly very strong, but united they have no small weight; and there is absolutely no opposing evidence.

On this view of the case, Nehemiah lived long enough to see great changes in the Persian empire. About 410 B. C., during the reign of Darius, Egypt became independent. In 401 B. C., soon after the accession of Artaxerxes Mnemon, his brother Cyrus led against him the memorable expedition described in Xenophon's Anabasis. The route of this expedition was too far to the north to cause much disturbance in Palestine. The accounts we have of these affairs show that the Persians had, in general, become enervated and unmilitary; their fighting was largely done for them by Greek mercenaries. Meanwhile, the little territory of Phoenicia, in northern Palestine, was immensely important, the Phoenicians constituting the strength of the Persian navy.

The expulsion of Manasseh.—Nearly the last act recorded in the book of Nehemiah is recorded in the following words:" And there was a son-in-law to Sanballat the Horonite from the sons of Joiada the son of Eliashib the high 1priest; and I expelled him from me." Is this a reference to the marriage of Manasseh and Nicaso, described in Jos. Ant. XI. vii. 2 and viii.? No proof to the contrary can be drawn from the fact that Manasseh was the grandson of Joiada, and not directly his son; for it is characteristic of these narratives that they sometimes use the word son for more remote descendants. Johanan, for example, is grandson to Eliashib in Neh. 12:10-11, 22, but his son in 12:23; Ezra x. 6. There is no conclusive proof to the contrary in the fact that the person of whom Josephus commonly speaks as Sanballat was alive more than a hundred and ten years after Nehemiah first came to Jerusalem, and therefore cannot have been the Sanballat whom Nehemiah then found in Palestine, Ant. XI. viii. 4; for either the name Sanballat was handed down in successive generations, or Josephus is confused in the name.

If Manasseh was the bridegroom of Neh. 13:28, he must have been quite young when the marriage took place, in the pontificate of Joiada. It was not until the accession of Jaddua, more than thirty-two years later, that the elders of the Jews finally excluded him from the altar; and it was more than forty-five years after his marriage, after he had become an old man, that the Samaritan temple was built for him. Evidently these considerations interpret, without discrediting, the accounts of the affair as given in Nehemiah and Josephus. The two are consistent, and the account given by Josephus is to be accepted, at least in its general features.

The Samaritan schism.—The traditions concerning literary work (especially in sacred literature) done in the times of Nehemiah and Ezra will form the subject of the next paper. 3

In order to be ready for that problem, we need to glance at the external history for the generation that followed the death of Nehemiah. Our information is very scanty, but is, perhaps, significant. Josephus says (Ant. XI. vii. I) that Jesus the brother of the high priest John (the same as Jonathan, or Johanan) was the friend of Bagoses, the general of the army of ",another Artaxerxes ", who proposed to make him high priest. The result was a quarrel between him and John, and the death of Jesus by the hand of John, in the temple. Bagoses made this a pretext for profanely entering the temple, and for extorting money from the Jews. This he did for seven years. Whether Josephus means Artaxerxes Mnemon, or Artaxerxes Ochus, or indeed, whether he at all distintinguishes the two, must be regarded as uncertain; but it is now common (and plausible) to identify his Bagoses with Bagoas, a general of Ochus. The Phoenicians had revolted. By the aid of Greek mercenaries and of treachery, Ochus not only subdued them with great slaughter, but reconquered Egypt, Bagoas being prominent in these affairs, and the conquest being completed about 344 B. C., that is, about the time when Jaddua succeeded Johanan as high priest. See article "Persia" in Ency. Brit., or Rawlinson's Ancient Monarchies vol. III. pp. 51 1-512.

Probably this instance of foreign interference bore fruit in the events that followed. When Jaddua became high priest, the Jews, exasperated by what had happened, insisted that Manasseh, who had previously been expelled by Nehemiah, should not approach the altar, unless he put away his foreign wife. There were other Jewish priests and great men in the same condition with Manasseh; and there was good organizing ability in the family of Sanballat. Instead of longer fighting their battle in Jerusalem, they withdrew in large numbers, to the Samaritan country, and there set up a rival worship, based on the law of Moses, with Manasseh as high priest. The true date of the schism is about the beginning of the pontificate of Jaddua, that is, about 344 B. C. Their temple charter, from Alexander the great was a few years later.



1) In proof that the narrative from Neh, 12:27 onward belongs to the second administration of Nehemiah, see note in Student for November, 1889, pp. 291, 292.

2) See note in Student for November, 1889, p. 292. See also Neh. 8:2, 18; 10:32, 29 (31, 28), and chap. 5, and cf. Deut. 31:10-13, etc.

3) "The portions of the Levites had not been given, and the Levites and the singers and the doers of the work had fled each to his field," Neh. 13:10. Compare the fact that the temple servants had to be gathered from their places for the services of the dedication, 12:27-29, and the fact that, in connection with these services, more careful provision was made for their support, 12:44; 13:11-13.

4) Or "was asked for " by Ezra and the faithful in Jerusalem. The verb is a Niphal. Why should it be treated differently from any other Niphal?

5) Most of the treatments of the account of Nehemiah's second administration assume that all the events recorded in chap. 13 occurred at about the same time, directly after his return to Jerusalem; they differ but little, save on the question whether his absence was for one year or for many years. To me it seems clear that the interval of absence must have been brief, but that the subsequent events, especially those recorded in 13:15-31, extended over a period of many years.

The literary structure of the narrative indicates this. The section, 12:27-13:31 is divided into three parts, by the repetition of " Remember me, O my God," 13:14, 22, 31 (cf. 5:19). The first part deals with events that are pretty definitely dated; the second and third treat of Nehemiah's efforts against Sabbath breaking and foreign marriages, and are indefinite as to date, the third part, in particular, describing a movement, rather than an event-a movement that, of necessity, required many years for its accomplishment.

6) They made arrangements " for heave-offerings, for first-fruits, and for tithes, to gather into " the chambers " the portions required by the law," 12:44.

"Now all Judah brought in the tithes of the grain, and the wine, and the oil," 13:12. Cf. Mal. 3:8, 10.

"And also the women and the children rejoiced," 12:43. "In that day, there was reading in the book of Moses, in the ears of the people," 13:1.

7) The wall had been originally rebuilt in the first year of Nehemiah, in fifty-two days, 6:15. Considering the limited resources of the builders, and the difficulties they had to contend with, it is hardly possible that the wall so built was substantial and imposing enough to be permanent. A good business man like Nehemiah would certainly take occasion, as soon as possible, to reconstruct it more thoroughly and solidly. Josephus says that Nehemiah came to Jerusalem in the twenty-fifth year of the reign of Xerxes, that the wall was two years and four months in building, and that it was finished in the twenty-eighth year of Xerxes, the ninth month, Ant. XI. v. 6 and 8. Now Xerxes reigned but twenty-one years, and it is certain that the Persian monarch of Nehemiah was Artaxerxes, and not Xerxes. It is further certain that Nehemiah began operations in the twentieth year of the Persian king, and not the twenty-fifth. But, none the less, it is supposable that the tradition found in Josephus may be partly correct, and that the permanent reconstruction of the wall took place between the twenty-fifth and the twenty-eighth of Artaxerxes. At all events, there certainly must have been a pretty extensive work of reconstruction, and the dedication, perhaps, was not so very long after the reconstruction was completed.

8) They sought the Levites from all their places, to bring them in to Jerusalem, to make the dedication . . . with song," etc., 12:27-29. The singers, especially, ver. 28.

9) "Sanballat, who had been sent into Samaria by Darius the last king as satrap, a Cuthaean by race, whence are also the Samaritans," Ant XI. vii. 2.

If Josephus here means Codomannus, " the last king," of Persia, of whose relations with Sanballat he speaks in tha following sections, then the parts of his account are inconsistent; for this Darius reigned only four years, while the events which Josephus places before the close of his reign, after the appointment of Sanballat, would require many years. Josephus says that Sanballat, had become an old man before this reign closed, Ant. XI. viii. 2. The account becomes more consistent if we suppose that by "the last king" he means the last king before " the other Artaxerxes," of whom he has just been speaking; or better, if we suppose that Josephus here follows an account which originally said that the commission of Sanballat was from Darius Nothus, or from Hystaspis, but which has become confused in transmission.

In any case, the man whom Josephus here calls Sanballat cannot be the Sanballat whom Nehemiah found in Palestine 444 B. C., for he was alive more than a hundred and ten years after that date. If the accounts in Nehemiah and Josephus are both correct, the man of whom Josephus speaks was head to the Sanballat house two or three generations later than the other.

10) The passage is obscure, and is disputed, many insisting that the Darius of ver. 22 must be Codomannus. But it seems clear to me that two registrations and no more are mentioned in Neh. 12:1-26:first, a registration for the times of Jeshua, 1-9; and second, a registration for "the days of Joiakim-and the days of Nehemiah-and of Ezra," 10-26, especially ver. 26. In regard to the second of these, the record contains:

a. A list of the high priests from Jeshua to Jaddua. Of these, the two last became high priests after the death of Nothus.

b. A list of the priests of Joiakim's time, each priest with some exceptions, being named as succeeding a particular priest of Jeshua's time, 12-21, cf. 1-7.

c. The mention that the priests and Levites of the times directly after Joiakim were written " upon the reign of Darius the Persian," 22.

d. The mention that the particulars given in the book of Chronicles (see I Chron. 9:10-34 and perhaps 3:17 sq.) extend "up to" the high priesthood of Johanan, 23.

e. The mention of some prominent Levites, 24-25, cf. I Chron. 9:10-34, where some of the same names appear.

The notes of time here found are: (a) the times of Joiakim, Ezra and Nehmiah, 26, 12, (b) " upon the kingdom of Darius the Persian," 22, (c) " and up to the days of Johanan the son of Eliashib," 23, (d) late enough to include Jaddua, II, (e) " in the days of Eliashib, Joiada, and Johanan, and Jaddua," 22.

Of these, (d) and (e) are necessarily limited by (c) Though Jaddua is included, the record extends not to the time when he became high priest, but only to the time when his father was high priest. The phrase " in the days of Eliashib, Joiada, Johanan, and Jaddua" is a general phrase, and has the same limit. The registration was made in the reign of Darius Nothus. It was partly retrospective, including the priests of Joiakim's time, and thus directly continuing the registration of Jeshua's time; and was carried on after the death of Darius; but was finished during Johanan's pontificate, 23, and within the lifetime of Nehemiah, 26. The Darius of ver. 22 is Nothus, as we should naturally expect the Darius to be who is mentioned next after Artaxerxes Longiimanus.

If it be objected to this that they would not have enrolled Jaddua till he actually became high priest, the reply is not difficult. No reason can be given why the next heir to the office should not have been mentioned in any list of high priests. But even if it could be shown that the heir was not ordinarily so enrolled, there was a special reason in Jaddua's case; if custom did not require that his name should be in the list, it was yet natural that it should be placed there, in order to mark the fact that his brother Manasseh was excluded from the succession. See below.

11) It is in the fabulous account of Nehemiah's restoring the fire upon the altar:" And the priests made a prayer while the sacrifice was consuming, both the priests and all the rest, Jonathan beginning and the rest responding aloud, as Neemias [did]."