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Thursday, September 14 2017
Biblical Eras: The Rebuilding Of Judah And Jerusalem
"Then rose up the chief of the fathers of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests, and the Levites, with all them whose spirit God had raised, to go up to build the house of the LORD which is in Jerusalem. "
The return of the Kingdom of Judah (the tribes of Judah, Benjamin and Levi; see Biblical Eras: How Did Judah Become Known As Israel?) after 70 years of exile (see Biblical Eras: From Babylon To Jerusalem - Again) was accomplished in the time of Cyrus king of Persia - exactly as prophesied (Cyrus was even identified by name in the prophesy - before he was even born; see The Prophecies Of Cyrus of Persia).
"1:1 Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying,
The return of the people of Judah (Judah never had another reigning human king - see How The Messianic Line Survived In Babylon) was done progressively under the specific task leaderships of Zerubbabel, Ezra and Nehemiah (see Zerubbabel's Return, Ezra's Journey From Babylon and The Arrival Of Nehemiah's Cavalry).
The first people of Judah to return found the city of Jerusalem to be little more than a heap of ash and rubble - left desolate exactly as prophesied ("for as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbath, to fulfil threescore and ten years"). We first read of Nehemiah when, while he was yet only the cupbearer of the Persian king, he heard the reports of the state of Jerusalem: "the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire."
"1:1 The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah. And it came to pass in the month Chisleu, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the palace, 1:2 That Hanani, one of my brethren, came, he and certain men of Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews that had escaped, which were left of the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem. 1:3 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. 1:4 And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven" (Nehemiah 1:1-4 KJV)
The LORD sent Nehemiah to restore Jerusalem as His capital city. The LORD provided the means to do so by the Persian king, who then held Judea and Jerusalem within the territory of his empire (he would continue to do so until his Persian Empire fell to the Greek Empire under Alexander the Great over a century later - as prophesied by the prophet Daniel who was still back in Persia, after his years in Babylon; see also The Prophets: Daniel).
"2:1 And it came to pass in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king, that wine was before him: and I took up the wine, and gave it unto the king. Now I had not been beforetime sad in his presence. 2:2 Wherefore the king said unto me, Why is thy countenance sad, seeing thou art not sick? this is nothing else but sorrow of heart. Then I was very sore afraid, 2:3 And said unto the king, Let the king live for ever: why should not my countenance be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers' sepulchres, lieth waste, and the gates thereof are consumed with fire?
Upon his arrival, Nehemiah surveyed the ruins - and then immediately mustered the people to work.
"2:11 So I came to Jerusalem, and was there three days. 2:12 And I arose in the night, I and some few men with me; neither told I any man what my God had put in my heart to do at Jerusalem: neither was there any beast with me, save the beast that I rode upon.
The rebuilding was a massive reconstruction work. Clearing the vast amount of rubble, by brute human labor, was itself a monumental effort. Other occupants of the land opposed and threatened them most of the time. But by sheer tenacity the city of Jerusalem and the Temple rose from the dust.
"6:15 So the wall was finished in the twenty and fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty and two days. 6:16 And it came to pass, that when all our enemies heard thereof, and all the heathen that were about us saw these things, they were much cast down in their own eyes: for they perceived that this work was wrought of our God." (Nehemiah 6:15-16 KJV)
With the city and the Temple restored, or at least existing again, Ezra then read the Law of God, as a reminder that it was the reason that their ancestors were given Jerusalem, and why they had lost everything when they had forsaken the LORD.
"8:1 And all the people gathered themselves together as one man into the street that was before the water gate; and they spake unto Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded to Israel.
Through the leadership of Ezra and Nehemiah, Jerusalem was re-established as the capital city of the people, if not the nation, of the people of Judah. Neither the city, nor the Temple, was restored to their magnificence in the time of Solomon, but that was for the good - it was vanity that had gotten the city, the Temple, and the nation, destroyed.
Fact Finder: When did the religion known today as "Judaism" originate? How was/is it very different from that actually given by the LORD to the Israelites in the time of Moses?
This Day In History, September 14
81: Domitian became the 11th Roman emperor (see A History Of Jerusalem: Pompey And The Caesars). He reigned (81-96 AD) during the time that the apostle John was given to write the book of Revelation (see Revelation: Thy Kingdom Come). Domitian succeeded his brother Titus who oversaw the prophesied destruction of Jerusalem in 70 (see A History Of Jerusalem: Titus And The Zealots and What Did Jesus Christ Say About Those Stones?).
629: Byzantine Emperor Heraclius entered Constantinople after his victory over the Persian Empire.
1180: The Battle of Ishibashiyama in Japan.
1262: Cadiz, Spain, was captured by Alfonso X of Castille, ending a 500-year occupation of the city by the Moors.
1741: The German-born English composer George Frederick Handel finished his "Messiah" oratorio, after working on it non-stop for 23 days.
1812: During the Napoleonic Wars, Napoleon's invasion of Russia reached Moscow to find that the entire city had been abandoned and set on fire by retreating Russian forces (see Russia Or Europe - Who Has Been The Invader?).
1829: The Russo-Turkish War ended with the signing of the Treaty of Adrianople between the Ottomans and the Russians (listen to our Sermon The Ottoman Empire).
1854: British and French forces landed in the Crimea to fight the Russians, who had started the Crimean War with their invasion of Turkey in July 1853.
1901: U.S. President William McKinley died at age 58, a week after being shot twice in the abdomen while standing in a reception line in Buffalo, New York. The assassin, a U.S. born anarchist, Leon Czolgosz, who walked right up to McKinley with a handkerchief-covered gun in his hand, was executed by electric chair about 8 weeks later.
McKinley was one of many U.S. Presidents who did not survive their elected office (historically, the greatest danger for U.S. Presidents hasn't been foreign enemies, but their own people). In 1989, Ronald Reagan broke what some called the "year zero curse" when he became the first U.S. President since 1840, who won a Presidential election in a year ending in a zero, to leave office alive (although not without incident - Mr. Reagan was very seriously wounded in an assassination attempt in March of 1981):
1917: After the communist revolution that overthrew the Czar Nicholas ("Czar" was term used for the Russian king, which was derived from the Roman "Caesar"), Russia was proclaimed a republic by the victorious rebels (see When Do Liberals Become Conservatives? and Why Are Politicians Called Left Or Right?).
1939: The first functional helicopter, Russian-born Igor Sikorsky's VS-300, made its first flight (see Who Was The First To Fly?).
1944: Belgium, Luxembourg and part of Holland were liberated from Nazi occupation by U.S., British and Canadian troops.
1948: Construction of the United Nations buildings in New York began.
1959: The Soviet Union's unmanned Luna-2 became the first man-made spacecraft to land on the Moon.
1960: Iraq, Iran, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia formed OPEC, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
1982: Bashir Gemayel, President-elect of Lebanon, was assassinated by a bomb while speaking before a Maronite women's group. The explosive device, which was set by a pro-Syrian dissident, demolished the building and killed dozens of other people.
2001: A "National Prayer Service" was held at the Washington National Cathedral for victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks. A service was also held on Parliament Hill in Canada, the largest such service in Canada's capital.
In the hours after 9-11 happened, President George W. Bush closed U.S. airspace to everyone - even U.S. airliners over the Atlantic. That wasn't a problem for those who weren't yet half-way - they could turn around and return to Europe. But those closer to home didn't have enough fuel to turn around, but were still warned not to enter U.S. airspace or they'd be shot down. Fortunately for the 7,000 people on those U.S. airliners, there is a little airport in Canada, known as Gander.