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RESTORATION. The period of time covered by the Restoration will be regarded as beginning about 515 b.c. and terminating with the time of Malachi, about 450 b.c. Once the edict of Cyrus, proclaimed in 538 b.c., had given official permission for expatriate groups in Babylonia to return to their homelands and renew the pattern of their former ways of life those members of the captive Jewish population who had caught the vision of a new existence in Judaea along theocratic lines, as indicated by Ezekiel, were not slow to begin the arduous journey back to the desolated homeland. As the prophecies of Haggai and Zechariah make plain (see Haggai; Zechariah), the initial enthusiasm which the returned exiles had manifested for the rebuilding of the ruined Temple became dissipated at a comparatively early period. The most that the inhabitants of Jerusalem were apparently willing or able to do was the reconstruction of their own houses in the city. However, the situation was remedied by the timely intervention of Haggai and Zechariah in 520 b.c., and five years later the successor to the Temple of Solomon was dedicated amid scenes of great rejoicing.

The policy of the Pers. rulers was remarkable for the amount of political freedom which was given to the constituent elements of the empire. This enlightened attitude of the government presented certain difficulties for the Persians initially, for after the suicide of Cambyses II, son of Cyrus in 522 b.c., some of the provinces which Cyrus had conquered tried to break away from imperial rule. However, order was finally restored by an Achaemenid prince named Darius the Great (522-486 b.c.), but while he was regaining control of the situation, the people of Judaea managed to establish some degree of independence. When Darius finally imposed imperial rule he followed a policy of benevolence toward the returned exiles in Judaea. According to Ezra 6:13 a military governor named Tattenai was in charge of the Pers. province of Judah, and the state was encouraged to function as a religious rather than a political entity with Josiah appointed as high priest in the time of Haggai. Precisely what happened to Zerubbabel after 515 b.c. is unknown, but it has been suggested that he either died or was removed from office by the Pers. government as a precautionary measure against the establishing of a Judean state independent of Pers. control. From that time onward the political situation in Judah seems to have been stabilized by the formulation of a theocratic system supported by the central Pers. administration.

Of the fifty-seven years which followed the dedication of the second Temple, the Book of Ezra has nothing to report. This situation is unfortunate, for this particular period of Biblical history is lacking in extensive documentation. As far as the Pers. empire was concerned, the death of Darius I in 486 b.c. was followed by the accession of his son Xerxes I, who ruled for twenty years from 485 b.c. This man, to whom there is a possible reference under the name of Ahasuerus in Ezra 4:6, maintained the administration of the empire at a high level of efficiency, and crushed the political aspirations of some of his more restless subjects. An inscr. from his reign, which was found in 1939 at Persepolis, demonstrated the vigor of his rule and made clear his zeal for the Pers. god Ahuramazda: “When I became king there were among those lands...which rebelled. Then Ahuramazda helped me. By Ahuramazda’s will such lands I conquered...this which I did I achieved it all by the will of Ahuramazda....” When Xerxes died in 465 b.c. he was succeeded by his second son Artaxerxes I Longimanus (464-424 b.c.), who is evidently the Artaxerxes mentioned in Ezra 4:7-23.

For the inhabitants of Judaea the period of the restoration was marked by a valiant struggle to overcome the poverty which was evident on every hand. The city of Jerusalem was far from being rebuilt and though the Temple had been completed, there were still no walls to protect the city dwellers from their enemies in the locality. Consequently Samaritans and Arabs could enter the city and plunder the crops whenever they chose. This dispiriting fact, along with the waning of enthusiasm for further building activity after the Temple had been restored, compelled the Jews to eke out a precarious existence in and around Jerusalem.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

res-to-ra’-shun: The idea of a restoration of the world had its origin in the preaching of the Old Testament prophets. Their faith in the unique position and mission of Israel as the chosen people of God inspired in them the conviction that the destruction of the nation would eventually be followed by a restoration under conditions that would insure the realization of the original divine purpose. When the restoration came and passed without fulfillment of this hope, the Messianic era was projected into the future. By the time of Jesus the conception became more or less spiritualized, and the anticipation of a new order in which the consequences of sin would no longer appear was a prominent feature of the Messianic conception. In the teaching of Jesus and the apostles such a restoration is taken for granted as a matter of course.

In Mt 17:11 (compare Mr 9:12), the moral and spiritual regeneration preached by John the Baptist is described as a restoration and viewed as a fulfillment of Mal 4:6. It is "to be observed, however, that the work of John could be characterized as restoration only in the sense of an inception of the regeneration that was to be completed by Jesus. In Mt 19:28 Jesus speaks of a regeneration (palingenesia) of the world in terms that ascribe to the saints a state of special felicity. Perhaps the most pointed expression of the idea of restoration as a special event or crisis is found in the address of Peter (Ac 3:21), where the restoration is described as an apokatastasis panton, and is viewed as a fulfillment of prophecy.

In all the passages cited the restoration is assumed as a matter with which the hearers are familiar, and consequently its nature is not unfolded. The evidence is, therefore, too limited to justify any attempt to outline its special features. Under such circumstances there is grave danger of reading into the language of the Scriptures one’s own conception of what the restoration is to embody. We are probably expressing the full warrant of the Scripture when we say that the reconstruction mentioned in these passages contemplates the restoration of man, under the reign of Christ, to a life in which the consequences of sin are no longer present, and that this reconstruction is to include in some measure a regeneration of both the physical and the spiritual world.


See also

  • Punishments