Story Thirteen

THE STORY OF A JOYOUS JOURNEY
WE have seen, in the story of the kingdom of Ĭś̝ ra-el, or the Ten Tribes, how the great empire of Ăs̝-sy̆ŕ ĭ-ȧ arose from the city of Nĭń e-veh, on the Tī́ gris river; how it ruled all the lands and carried away the Ten Tribes of Ĭś̝ ra-el into captivity, from which they never came back to their own land. We saw, too, how the empire of Ăs-sy̆ŕ ĭ-ȧ., went down, and the empire of Băb́ y̆-lon, or Chăl-dḗ ȧ, arose in its place under Nĕb-u-chad-nĕź zar. As soon as Nĕb-u-chad-nĕź zar died, the empire of Băb́ y̆-lon began to fall, and in its place arose the empire of Pe͂ŕ s̝iȧ, under Cȳ́ rus, who is called Cȳ́ rus the Great, because of his many victories and his wide rule. His empire was much greater than either the Ăs-sy̆ŕ ĭ-an or the Chal-dean empire, for it held in its rule the land of Ḗ ġy̆pt, all the lands known as Asia Minor, and also many lands in the far east.
Cȳ́ rus, the great king, was a friend to the Jews̝, who at this time were still living in the land of Chăl-dḗ ȧ, between the Tī́ gris and Eū-phrā́ tēs̝ rivers. It was now seventy years since the first company of captives had been taken away from the land of Jū́ dah by Nĕb-u-chad-nĕź zar, and fifty years since the city of Jē̇-rṳ́ sā̇-lĕm had been burned. By that time the Jews were no longer looked upon as captives in the land of Chăl-dḗ ȧ. They lived in their own houses, and tilled their own farms, and were in peace. Many of them were rich, and some of them, like Dăń iel and his three friends, were in high places at the court of the king.
You remember that in the early days of the captivity, Jĕr-e-mī́ ah the prophet wrote a letter to those who had been carried away to Băb́ ẏ-lon, telling them that after seventy years they would come back to their own land. The seventy years were now ended. The older men and women who had been taken away had died in the land of Chăl-dḗ ȧ, but their children, and their children's children still loved the land of Jū́ dah as their own land, although it was so far away.
The Lord put it into the heart of Cȳ́ rus, the king of Pēŕ s̝iȧ, very early in his reign, to send word among the Jews that they might now go back to their own land. This was the word, as it was written and sent out:
"Thus saith Cȳ́ rus, the king of Pēŕ s̝iȧ, The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he has commanded me to build him a house in Jē̇-rṳ́ sā̇-lĕm, in the land of Judah. Therefore, let those of the people of God who are among you go up to Jē̇-rṳ́ sā̇-lĕm, and help to build the house of the Lord. And those who do not go to Jē̇-rṳ́ sā̇-lĕm, but stay in the places where they are living, let them give to those who go back to their own land gifts of gold and silver, and beasts to carry them, and goods, and also a free gift toward the building of the house of the Lord in Jē̇-rṳ́ sa-lĕm.”
At this the Jews in the land of Chăl-dḗ a̤ were very glad, for they loved their own land, and longed to see it. One of them wrote a song at this time. It is Psa. 126
"When the Lord turned again the captivity of Zī́ ŏn,
We were like unto them that dream,
Then was our mouth filled with laughter,
And our tongue with singing:
Then said they among the nations,
`The Lord hath done great things for them,
The Lord hath done great things for us;
Whereof we are glad.

Turn again our captivity, O Lord,
As the streams in the South.
They that sow in tears
Shall reap in joy,
Though he goeth on his way weeping,
Bearing forth the seed,
He shall come again with joy,
Bringing his sheaves with him.”
So the Jeẃ ĭsh people began to make ready for going back in their own land. Those who were rich, and noble in rank, stayed to the land of Chăl-dḗ ȧ, and in other lands of the Pe͂ŕ s̝ian Empire. But though they did not go back to the land from which their fathers had come, they gave large gifts of gold and silver to help those who did go. And Cȳ́ rus, the king, took from the treasure-house in Băb́ y̆-lon all the vessels of the Temple that had been taken away by Nĕb-u-chad-nĕź zar, and gave them to the Jews̝, to be used in the new Temple which they were soon to build. These were plates, and dishes, and bowls, and cups of gold and silver, more than four thousand in all. So, with the gifts of the king, and the gifts of their own people, and what was owned by those who went to the land of Jū́ dah, the company took away a vast treasure of gold and silver.
It was a happy company of people that met together for the journey back to the land which they still called their own, though very few of them had seen it. There were forty-two thousand of them, besides their servants to help them in the journey. They traveled slowly up the Eū-phrā́ tēs̝ river, singing songs of joy, until they reached the northern end of the great desert. Then they turned toward the south-west, and journeyed beside the Lĕb́ a-non mountains, past Dā̇-măś cus, and through Sy̆ŕ ĭ-ȧ, until at last they came to the land of their fathers, the land of Judah.
With all their joy they must have felt sad when they saw the city of Jē̇-rṳ́ sa-lĕm all in ruins, its walls broken down, its houses heaps of blackened stone, its once beautiful Temple burned into a heap of ashes.
As soon as they came, they found the rock where the altar of the Lord had stood, the same rock where Dā́ vid had long before offered a sacrifice, and the same rock upon which travelers look even in our time under the Dome of the Rock. From the smooth face of this rock they gathered up the stones, and swept away the ashes and the dust. Then they built upon it the altar of the Lord, and Jŏsh́ u-ȧ, the high-priest, began to offer the sacrifices which for fifty years had not been placed upon the altar. Every morning and every afternoon they laid on the altar the burnt-offering, and thus gave themselves to the Lord, and asked God's help.
From this time there were two branches of the Jewish race. Those who came back to the land of Judah, which was also called the land of Ĭś̝ ra-el, were called "Hḗ brews̝," which was an old name of the Ĭś̝ ra-el-ītes. Those who stayed in the lands abroad, in Chăl-dḗ ȧ and throughout the empire of Pe͂ŕ s̝iȧ, were called "the Jews̝ of the Dispersion." There were far more of the Jews̝ abroad than in their own land, and they were the richer, and the greater people. Many of them went up to Jē̇-rṳ́ sā̇-lĕm to visit and to worship, and many others sent rich gifts; so that between the two great branches of the Jeẃ ĭsh people, in their own land and in other lands, there was a close friendship, and they all felt that wherever the Jews were they were still one people.
The Jews̝ who had been captives in the land of Băb́ y̆-lon were now free to go wherever they chose; and besides those who went back to the land of their fathers, there were many who chose to visit other lands, wherever they could find work and get gain. It was not many years before Jews̝ were found in many cities of the Pēŕ s̝ian Empire. They went also to Africa, and also to Europe, choosing the cities for their home rather than the country. Everywhere, in all the great cities, the "Jews̝ of the Dispersion" were found, besides those who were living in their own land of Ĭś̝ ra-el.
When the Jews̝ came back to their land their leader was named Zē̇-rŭb́ ba-bĕl, a word which means "One born in Băb́ y̆-lon." He belonged to the family of Dā́ vid, and was called "the prince"; but he ruled under the commands of Cȳ́ rus, the great king, for Jū́ dah (which now began to be spoken of as Jū-dḗ ȧ) was a small part, or "province" as it was called, in the great empire of Pe͂ŕ s̝iȧ.