Cyrus the Great was the founder of the largest empire the ancient Near East had seen thus far. He conquered much of Southwest and Central Asia, and reigned for 30 years. He was a strong military leader and a shrewd politician. Any people group he conquered was allowed to maintain its own customs and religion, so long as they swore loyalty to Persia, paid taxes, and did not rebel.
Month: Jan 2016
Exile to Babylon. The people of Judah were deported to Babylon in four stages. In 605 b.c., Nebuchadnezzar defeated Jerusalem, carrying away treasures and some of the people. Daniel was taken to Babylon at this time. In 597, Babylon responded to rebellion in Jerusalem by defeating the city again. Ezekiel was taken into exile at this time. In 587, Babylon conquered Jerusalem for yet another rebellion. This time the Babylonians tore down the city’s defensive walls and destroyed the temple. Jeremiah experienced this defeat. Finally, in 582, while reasserting its control over Palestine, Babylon took more Israelites into captivity.
Passover is a feast remembering Israel’s exodus from Egypt. It recalls their final meal in Egypt before deliverance. The most important element is the lamb (Ex. 12:5). It reminds participants of the blood smeared on the doorposts to protect them from the plague of the firstborn. Bitter herbs are eaten with the lamb, symbolizing the bitterness of Egyptian captivity.
The Book of the Law of the Lord. The high priest discovered this forgotten book while the temple was being repaired (34:14). After reading the Law, King Josiah called the nation to further measures of repentance and reform. The book may have included part or all of Deuteronomy.
Hezekiah’s wall (32:5) was one of his many efforts to defend Jerusalem from the invading Assyrians. Archaeologists have uncovered a 650-foot (200-m)portion of this wall.
Generous givers. When Hezekiah asked the people to contribute financially to his temple restoration project, they gave generously (31:5). Their response recalls the time of the tabernacle’s construction. The people gave so freely that Moses actually asked them to stop giving (Ex. 36:3–7).
What is a scapegoat? Laying hands on a sacrificial animal (29:23–24) was a symbolic act. It meant that human sin was being placed on the animal and taken away. On the Day of Atonement the people sacrificed a goat in this manner (see Lev. 16:20–22). Thus, today, when a person takes the blame for someone else, he or she may be referred to as a “scapegoat.”