A new vision (Zech 1:7-1:7)

“On the twenty-fourth day

Of the eleventh month,

The month of Shebat,

In the second year

Of King Darius,

The word of Yahweh

Came to the prophet Zechariah,

The son of Berechiah,

The son of Iddo.”

This apparently is the first of 8 visions that Zechariah had.  This oracle of Yahweh took place on the 24th day of the 11th month in the 2nd year of King Darius, either late 520 BCE or early 519 BCE.  This month was called Shebat.  Once again, there is a mention of Zechariah’s lineage, via Berechiah and Iddo, with Iddo the most well-known.

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Three months later (Hag 2:10-2:10)

“On the twenty-fourth day

Of the ninth month,

In the second year

Of King Darius,

The word of Yahweh

Came by the prophet Haggai.”

There was another oracle of Yahweh to Haggai, 3 months after the last oracle on the 24th of the month in the 2nd year of King Darius of Persia, in 520 BCE.

Title (Hag 1:1-1:1)

“In the second year

Of King Darius,

In the sixth month,

On the first day

Of the month,

The word of Yahweh

Came by the prophet Haggai,

To Zerubbabel,

The son of Shealtiel,

Governor of Judah.

It also came

To Joshua,

The son of Jehozadak,

The high priest.”

There is a precise date to this prophetic happening, August, 520 BCE, the second year of the great King Darius of Persia (522-486 BCE).  During his reign, he ruled over nearly ½ of the known world, over 50,000,000 people.  The word of Yahweh came through the prophet Haggai, although there is no mention of his family.  Perhaps he was one of those returning from the exile in Babylon.  In the Book of Ezra, chapter 5, Haggai and Zechariah were explicitly mentioned as prophets.  There was also a eunuch servant Haggai in the Book of Esther, but there seems to be no connection to this Haggai.  This Haggai was to prophesize to Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, who was the grandson of one of the last kings of Judah, King Jehoiachin (598 BCE).  Thus, he could be in the Davidic line.  He probably died sometime around 520 BCE, sometime around the events described here.  King Cyrus had appointed Zerubbabel to be the Governor of Judah in 538 BCE, when he was among the first exiles sent back to Jerusalem.  Joshua, the son of Jehozadak was the high priest in Jerusalem from 515-490 BCE.

The decree about the living God of Daniel (Dan 6:26-6:27)

“I make a decree.

In all my royal dominion,

People should tremble,

People should fear,

Before the God of Daniel!

He is the living God!

He endures forever!

His kingdom

Shall never be destroyed!

His dominion

Has no end!

He delivers!

He rescues!

He works signs

In heaven!

He works wonders

On earth!

He has saved Daniel

From the power

Of the lions.”

King Darius made a decree for his royal kingdom. People were to fear and tremble before the God of Daniel, because he was a living God. He would endure forever. His kingdom will never be destroyed, since it has no end. He delivers people. He rescues people. He works signs and does wonders, both in heaven and on earth. Most of all, he has saved Daniel from the power of the lions. This is a universal declaration that all people in the whole world should realize what the God of Daniel has done for him. What a wonderful description of the role of God in human lives. Interesting enough, this great proclamation comes from this questionable Darius the Mede, and not an Israelite leader or prophet.

Alexander the Great (1 Macc 1:1-1:4)

“After Alexander son of Philip, the Macedonian, who came from the land of Kittim, had defeated King Darius of the Persians and the Medes, he succeeded him as king. He had previously become king of Greece. King Alexander fought many battles. He conquered strongholds. He put to death the kings of the earth. He advanced to the ends of the earth. He plundered many nations. When the earth became quiet before him, he was exalted. His heart was lifted up. He gathered a very strong army. He ruled over countries, nations, and princes. They became tributary to him.”

Once again, we have a book that is not in the Hebrew canon and therefore not in the King James Bible. However, it was part of the Septuagint, and the Vulgate of Jerome. Thus it is part of the Catholic tradition that places these books about the Maccabees as the last books of the so-called historical books of the Bible, as in the Jerusalem Bible that I am following. This is a semi-historical book of the late 2nd century BCE.

It starts out with the real historical figure of Alexander the Great (356-323 BCE), the son of Philip of Macedonia (382-336 BCE). Alexander was the king of Greece who defeated the Persian King Darius III (380-330 BCE). Alexander had gone to the ends of the earth, which meant India in the east. He killed many kings with his strong army. All the nations were beholden to him as he attempted to Hellenize the whole empire with a dominant Greek culture. This Greek culture produced the holy books of the Greek Jewish Old Testament Septuagint and the Greek Christian New Testament. At some point there were more Greek speaking Jews in Alexandria than there were Jews in Jerusalem.

The completion of the Temple (Ezra 6:13-6:15)

“Then, according to the word sent by King Darius, Governor Tattenai of the province Beyond the River, Shethar-bozenai, and their associates did with all diligence what King Darius had ordered. The elders of the Jews built and prospered, through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah son of Iddo. They finished their building by command of the God of Israel and by the decree of King Cyrus, King Darius, and King Artaxerxes of Persia. This house was finished on the third day of the month of Adar, in the sixth year of the reign of King Darius.”

The leaders from Samaria were diligent in following the orders of King Darius. The elders at Jerusalem under the guidance and support of the prophets Haggai and Zechariah finished building the Temple. It is not clear where all the labor came from. Nevertheless, by the command of God, King Cyrus, King Darius, and even King Artaxerxes they completed the house of God in the 6th year of the reign of King Darius I that would be around 516 BCE. However, if it was King Darius II, it would be a century later around 418 BCE. The time of King Darius I of 516 BCE is more plausible, yet there was that dispute about the wall with King Artaxerxes.

The search and finding of the lost scroll of King Cyrus (Ezra 6:1-6:2)

“Then King Darius made a decree. They searched the archives where the documents were stored in Babylon. However, it was in Ecbatana, the capital which is in the province of Media, that a scroll was found on which this was written.”

King Darius decreed that a search should be made in the archives at Babylon for the scroll of King Cyrus. Guess what? Very conveniently, King Darius found the scroll from King Cyrus in Ecbatana in Media, which was the summer home of the king. Media was on the Caspian Sea and had become part of Persia, after being independent before that. Also King Darius had a residence there. Why it was there is not clear, except that King Cyrus may have issued it from there.