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Volume 34 - Page 128 of 261 Index | Zoom | |
Chisleu (December). Orion.
Tebeth (January). "Winter".
One or two points of interest are brought to light by an examination of this list of
names. During the time of Moses, the first month of the year was called Abib; the name
occurs in Exodus and Deuteronomy. In the days of, and after, the captivity, the old name
of the month is dropped and Nisan, a Babylonian name, takes its place. The testimony of
these two names is valuable evidence for the historicity of the books of the Bible. In the
days of Solomon, the names of the month had to be explained thus:--
"In the month Zif, which is the second month" (I Kings. 6: 1).
Later, after the captivity, the explanation takes the opposite form, the names being
added to explain the number, thus "In the tenth month, which is the month Tebeth"
(Esther 2: 16). These features, together with the appearance of Babylonian and foreign
names, are evidences of the changes that were overtaking the people of Israel. Nehemiah
tells us that his inquiry after the condition of his brethren and country was made "in the
month Chisleu, in the twentieth year". By comparing this passage with the next date,
given in Neh. 2: 1, we discover that this was the twentieth year of Artaxerxes. Strictly
speaking Artaxerxes is not a private name, but an appellative title, like Pharaoh, and was
common to a number of kings. It means "Great King" (Arta = great, Kshatza = king).
From the record of the Behistun rock (see The Berean Expositor, Volume IV/V,
pages 78, 79) we learn that he was the husband of Esther ("the queen also sitting by him"
Neh. 2: 6), and the father of Cyrus, who gave the order to rebuild the temple (Ezra 1: 1).
The date of this twentieth year of Artaxerxes is B.C.454, proof of which will be
found in the series already referred to entitled "Time and Place". This is of extreme
importance because of the relation of this date with the prophecy of Dan. 9: On this
date, therefore, Nehemiah commences his record, and tells us that he was in "Shushan
the palace". The city of Shushan has been excavated, and a palace, built on a mound
1,000 feet square, laid bare. The palace had several groups of columns enclosing a
central hall 200 feet square, and outside, separated by a wall some eighteen feet thick,
were three porticos 200 feet wide and supported by columns. It is highly probable that in
one of these, protected by awnings, the great banquet, described in Esther 1: took place.
The river upon which it stands is referred to in Dan. 8: 2 by the name Ulai, which
occurs in the writings of Pliny, who, in his Natural History, calls it Eulaeus. To
Nehemiah, on this auspicious date, came Hanani, one of his brethren and certain men of
Judah (Neh. 1: 2).
The edict of Ezra 1: 3 had not yet gone forth; the Jews were not yet "free",
consequently Nehemiah enquires concerning those that had "escaped" which were left of
the captivity. These that are said to have "escaped" may have slipped away from the
lands of their captivity and made their way back to Jerusalem, but there is another word,
malat, that carries that meaning. The word used here, peletah, occurs in Ezra 9: 8, 13,
14, 15, "escape" and "deliverance", where the idea is not so much slipping away from