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mysteries alike of Creation and Revelation, of the works and the Word of God; and the clearer these become, the purer, higher, more deeply spiritual, will be the emotions of adoring love, uniting the soul with God. We must not rest content with mere accomplishment; we must rise superior to the frivolity and excitements which form the existence of some women ; or how can we become worthy, or make our souls worthy, to be once more the favored of the Lord ?

Women of Israel! the very name should impress our hearts with a solemn conviction of our individual responsibility, and urge us on to such spiritual and intellectual improvement as will mark us, in the eyes of the whole world, as worthy descendants of the first-born of the Lord.

We have now completed our review of the female characters contained in the Fourth Period of Jewish History. Our readers will, we think, universally agree, that it does not contain a single passage, much less a single character or incident, which demonstrates the social, domestic, intellectual, and spiritual position and endowments of women as enslaved and degraded. There is not a bint or allusion to any second law opposed to the written one of Moses ; for if there had been, the monarchy lasted sufficiently long for it to have obtained such dominion as to make manifest its existence.

That man's evil and licentious passions had increased to an extent so fearful as to demand the captivity of the whole nation, is no proof of the imperfection of the law, but only of the imperfection of human nature. That the sins of the women increased the burden of Israel's guilt we do not deny, because the prophets so inform us. We merely affirm, that the social condition of women had not degenerated—that there were no laws then degrading and enslaving her : and, therefore, that as there were none then, there can be none now, as we acknowleage no other law of sufficient power to annul or contradict those given by the Eternal to Moses, and by him transmitted to

This important fact is strongly confirmed by the fearful wickedness of Jezebel and Athaliah. The former was the daughter of a notorious idolatrous king, and the mother of Athaliah; consequently we may indulge the comfort of the belief that neither was of Israel, and that such awful crimes staiced not the women whom the Lord so blessed. There is no

man,

occasion to bring forward their histories, subjects from which no good can be obtained, except that, in the creeping horror of the evil and the sin to which woman can attain, the prayer for help and strength, and freedom from temptation, may arise more frequently from our hearts. The fact of their influence is all we need, as confirming the assertion, that woman had both power and freedom in the land. Ahab's natural wickedness was fearfully increased, and made productive of still more horrible evil, by the counsels of his wife, as we must perceive by a very casual glance over his history; and of Athaliah we are expressly told, when speaking of her husband Jehoram, " that he walked in the ways of the kings of Israel, for he had the daughter of Ahab to wife, so he wrought that which was evil in the eyes of the Lord.” And, again, of her son Ahaziah, “he also walked in the ways of the house of Ahab, for his mother was his counsellor to do wickedly.What can more forcibly illustrate the power and influence which woman could obtain and exercise in Judea ? Had there been any law confining them to one particular sphere and debasing employments, not even the idolatrous wives and mothers of the kings could have obtained such ascendency. Nor was it only through kings, female authority was exercised. Athaliah reigned six years sole mistress of Judea ; and we may be certain, that however low the nation had fallen, however the laws of Moses had sunk into neglect and abuse, still, had there ever been any portion of this law degrading to woman, Athaliah never would have had either the means of making herself queen, or supporting so high a dignity, even for the short

space
of six

years. The very fact, then, of there being such characters as Jezebel and Athaliah, is unanswerable confirmation of the freedom and equality of woman, because though they were not women of Israel, their union with the Hebrew kings subjected them to all the restrictions of the Mosaic law; and had that law made them slaves, they would not have exchanged their liberty in their own idolatrous countries for conjugal thraldom in Judea, the social and domestic position of the Hebrew females being sufficiently well known to them, from the immediate vicinity of the land, to prevent any misconception on a subject so important

And whilst we shudder at this picture of awful wickedness, and feel inexpressibly thankful that our merciful God has vouchsafed us a law, which, if obeyed, must effectually prevent the dominion of such evil, let us not turn from it as an overcharged portrait, and believe that human nature is incapable of such heinous crimes. Alas! we have only to look into the annals of modern history, and even amidst those very nations who proclaim themselves so much more enlightened and spiritual than the blinded Jew—aye, and within

the last fou: centuries we shall find women tempted to follow the same awful path, and instigating husbands and sons to the commission of crimes and massacres, from which the heart turns with loathing sickness, and the vain longing to realize disbelief in the story that it reads. And if so lately, comparatively speaking, such things have been even in enlightened nations, can we continue to think the Bible-picture of woman's depravity overcharged ? Oh! we know not, we cannot know, the awful effects of unlimited authority and unrestrained passions on the weak human heart. We can only pray God to guard us from positions in which feelings may be aroused of whose very existence we dream not now; to bind closer and closer still His blessed law upon our hearts, His spirit on our souls ; to remove from us all those evil inclinations and embryo passions which His eye may trace, but of which we are unconscious ; to enable us to cling closer and closer upto Him in

and praise; and we shall be guarded, as by an angel's wing, from every evil thought and evil deed.

prayer

FIFTH PERIOD

CHAPTER I.

TIE CAPTIVITY.-REVIEW OF C II APTERS ONE

TO SE V EN OF THE BOOK OF E ZRA.SU G. GESTIONS

AS

Τ Ο THE IDENTITY OF THE AHASUERUS OF SCRIPTURE,

AND DA TE OF HIS ROYAL FEASTS,

&c.- CHOICE OF ESTHER.

A GREAT and melancholy change had taken place in the condition of the Israelites. Their continued disobedience and idol:itry had, at length, called down upon them the long-averted chastisement; and in the land of their foemen were now their mournful dwellings. The great armies of Nebuchadnezzar had overrun Judea, and carrying off kings, priests, and people to Babylon, left their beautiful land to desolation.

But even in their captivity, a captivity which their sinfulness compelled, God had not forsaken them. All were not sinful, all were noi disobedient, though all alike were exiled, and captives in a strange land. Even then the Lord raised up His witnesses. The firm constancy of the youthful Daniel and his companions, gave them examples of exalted righteousness in the very midst of darkness. The glorious visions of Ezekiel, yet more bold and sublime in imagery than the visions of any who had gone before him, inspired them with hope for the Future, and consolation for the Present; while, when the period of action came, such men as Ezra, Nehemiah, Zerubbabel, Haggai, and others equally earnest, were not found wanting in the furtherance of their holy cause.

The condition of the exiled Hebrews appears more that of colonists than slaves. Allowed to dwell together in large bodies, they became at length possessed of considerable property;* so

• Milman's History of the Jews, vol. i. p. 4.

hat many of them refused to return to their own land, even when the mandate of Cyrus gave them permission so to do. It seemed a strange and painful contradiction, this refusal to quit the land of their captivity, when, during that captivity, so many had yearned and wept when they “remembered Zion.” Yet, that it was so, and that the return to Judea was by no means general, is a convincing proof to us that the universal restoration, of which every prophet speaks, is still to be fulfilled.

The chronology, nay, the very personages of the events we are about to regard, as identified with those flourishing at the same period in Profane History, are so entangded and confused, that a clear elucidation is impossible. Not only do Jewish and Christian chronologists differ as to national dates, but also amongst themselves. Josephus, following the arrangement of the Bible, places the History of Esther after the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. In the Jewish calendar,* Esther's being made queen and saving her people, takes place six years after Cyrus's decree for the return of the Jews ; sixteen or eighteen before the building of the second temple and the departure of Ezra ; and thirty before the rebuilding of the walls by Nehemiah. The chronology at the end of Bagster's Comprehensive Bible rather favors this opinion,-only differing in regard to the departure of Ezra, which he states to have taken place only one year after Esther's accession, five before Haman's plot, and thirteen before the petition of Nehemiah. Milman, in his history of the Jews, and Gleig, in his history of the Bible, again differ; the former agreeing with the authorities already quoted, in placing the migration of the Jews under Ezra, after the accession of Esther; and the latter agreeing with Josephus in placing him before it.

Now, in alluding to these differing authorities, let it be remembered, that we do not interfere at all with the grand question at issue between Jews and Christians, viz. the correct data of the creation of the world ; the one placing it 3760, the other 4004 before the Christian era. The Jew has demonstra

* By E. H. Lindo, Esq.

† Even these are disputed: The Samaritan Pentateuch asserts the date of the creation to be 4700 B.C.; the Septuagint, 5372 ; Scaliger, 3950 ; Petavius, 3984: Dr. Hales, 5411 ; the Talmudists, 5344 (?) See aote to Bagster's Comprehensive Bible, p. 1339.

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