This Cyrus is called God's shepherd by Xenophon, as well as by Isaiah, Isaiah 44:28; as also it is said of him by the same prophet, that "I will make a man more precious than fine gold, even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir," Isaiah 13:12, which character makes Xenophon's most excellent history of him very credible.
 This leave to build Jerusalem, sect.3, and this epistle of Cyrus to Sisinnes and Sathrabuzanes, to the same purpose, are most unfortunately omitted in all our copies but this best and completest copy of Josephus; and by such omission the famous prophecy of Isaiah, Isaiah 44:28, where we are informed that God said of or to Cyrus, "He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure; even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built, and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid," could not hitherto be demonstrated from the sacred history to have been completely fulfilled, I mean as to that part of it which concerned his giving leave or commission for rebuilding the city Jerusalem as distinct from the temple, whose rebuilding is alone permitted or directed in the decree of Cyrus in all our copies.
 Of the true number of golden and silver vessels here and elsewhere belonging to the temple of Solomon, see the description of the temples, chap.13.
 Josephus here follows Herodotus, and those that related how Cyrus made war with the Scythians and Massagets, near the Caspian Sea, and perished in it; while Xenophon's account, which appears never to have been seen by Josephus, that Cyrus died in peace in his own country of Persia, is attested to by the writers of the affairs of Alexander the Great, when they agree that he found Cyrus's sepulcher at Pasargadae, near Persepolis. This account of Xenophon is also confirmed by the circumstances of Cambyses, upon his succession to Cyrus, who, instead of a war to avenge his father's death upon the Scythians and Massagets, and to prevent those nations from overrunning his northern provinces, which would have been the natural consequence of his father's ill success and death there, went immediately to an Egyptian war, long ago begun by Cyrus, according to Xenophon, p.644, and conquered that kingdom; nor is there, that I ever heard of, the least mention in the reign of Cambyses of any war against the Scythians and Massagets that he was ever engaged in all his life.
 The reader is to note, that although the speeches or papers of these three of the king's guard are much the same, in our Third Book of Esdras, ch.3. and 4., as they are here in Josephus, yet that the introduction of them is entirely different, while in our Esdras the whole is related as the contrivance of the three of the king's guards themselves; and even the mighty rewards are spoken of as proposed by themselves, and the speeches are related to have been delivered by themselves to the king in writing, while all is contrary in Josephus. I need not say whose account is the most probable, the matters speak for themselves; and there can be no doubt but Josephus's history is here to be very much preferred before the other. Nor indeed does it seem to me at all unlikely that the whole was a contrivance of king Darius's own, in order to be decently and inoffensively put in mind by Zorobabel of fulfilling his old vow for the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the temple, and the restoration of the worship of the "one true God" there. Nor does the full meaning of Zorobabel, when he cries out, 3 Esd.4.41], "Blessed be the God of truth;" and here, "God is true and righteous;" or even of all the people, 3 Esd.4.41, "Great is truth, and mighty above all things;" seem to me much different from this, "There is but one true God, the God of Israel." To which doctrine, such as Cyrus and Darius; etc., the Jews' great patrons, seem not to have been very averse, though the entire idolatry of their kingdoms made them generally conceal it.
 This strange reading in Josephus's present copies of four millions instead of forty thousand, is one of the grossest errors that is in them, and ought to be corrected from Ezra 2:61; 1 Esd.5:40; and Nehemiah 7:66, who all agree the general sum was but about forty-two thousand three hundred and sixty. It is also very plain that Josephus thought, that when Esdras afterwards brought up another company out of Babylon and Persia, in the days of Xerxes, they were also, as well as these, out of the two tribes, and out of them only, and were in all no more than "a seed" and "a remnant," while an "immense number" of the ten tribes never returned, but, as he believed, continued then beyond Euphrates, ch.5. sect.2, 3; of which multitude, the Jews beyond Euphrates, he speaks frequently elsewhere, though, by the way, he never takes them to be idolaters, but looks on them still as observers of the laws of Moses. The "certain part" of the people that now came up from Babylon, at the end of this chapter, imply the same smaller number of Jews that now came up, and will no way agree with the four millions.
 The history contained in this section is entirely wanting in all our other copies, both of Ezra and Esdras.
 Dr. Hudson takes notice here, that this kind of brass or copper, or rather mixture of gold and brass or copper, was called aurichalcum, and that this was of old esteemed the most precious of all metals.
 This procedure of Esdras, and of the best part of the Jewish nation, after their return from the Babylonish captivity, of reducing the Jewish marriages, once for all, to the strictness of the law of Moses, without any regard to the greatness of those who had broken it, and without regard to that natural affection or compassion for their heathen wives, and their children by them, which made it so hard for Esdras to correct it, deserves greatly to be observed and imitated in all attempts for reformation among Christians, the contrary conduct having ever been the bane of true religion, both among Jews and Christians, while political views, or human passions, or prudential motives, are suffered to take place instead of the Divine laws, and so the blessing of God is forfeited, and the church still suffered to continue corrupt from one generation to another. See ch.8. sect.2.
 This Jewish feast of tabernacles was imitated in several heathen solemnities, as Spanheim here observes and proves. He also further observes presently, what great regard many heathens had to the monuments of their forefathers, as Nehemiah had here, sect.6.
 This rule of Esdras, not to fast on a festival day, is quoted in the Apostolical Constitutions, B. V., as obtaining among Christians also.
 This miserable condition of the Jews, and their capital, must have been after the death of Esdras, their former governor, and before Nehemiah came with his commission to build the walls of Jerusalem. Nor is that at all disagreeable to these histories in Josephus, since Esdras came on the seventh, and Nehemiah not till the twenty-fifth of Xerxes, at the interval of eighteen years.
 This showing king Xerxes's epistles to God, or laying them open before God in the temple, is very like the laying open the epistles of Sennacherib before him also by Hezekiah, 2 Kings 19:14; Isaiah 37:14, although this last was for a memorial, to put him in mind of the enemies, in order to move the Divine compassion, and the present as a token of gratitude for mercies already received, as Hayercamp well observes on this place.
 It may not be very improper to remark here, with what an unusual accuracy Josephus determines these years of Xerxes, in which the walls of Jerusalem were built, viz. that Nehemiah came with his commission in the twenty-fifth of Xerxes, that the walls were two years and four months in building, and that they were finished on the twenty-eighth of Xerxes, sect.7, 8. It may also be remarked further, that Josephus hardly ever mentions more than one infallible astronomical character, I mean an eclipse of the moon, and this a little before the death of Herod the Great, Antiq. B. XVII. ch.6. sect.4. Now on these two chronological characters in great measure depend some of the most important points belonging to Christianity, viz. the explication of Daniel's seventy weeks, and the duration of our Savior's ministry, and the time of his death, in correspondence to those seventy weeks. See the Supplement to the Lit. Accorap. of Proph. p.72.
 Since some skeptical persons are willing to discard this Book of Esther as no true history; and even our learned and judicious Dr. Wall, in his late posthumous Critical Notes upon all the other Hebrew books of the Old Testament, gives none upon the Canticles, or upon Esther, and seems thereby to give up this book, as well as he gives up the Canticles, as indefensible; I shall venture to say, that almost all the objections against this Book of Esther are gone at once, if, as we certainly ought to do, and as Dean Prideaux has justly done, we place this history under Artsxerxes Longimanus, as do both the Septuagint interpretation and Josephus. The learned Dr. Lee, in his posthumous Dissertation on the Second Book of Esdras, p.25, also says, that "the truth of this history is demonstrated by the feast of Purlin, kept up from that time to this very day. And this surprising providential revolution in favor of a captive people, thereby constantly commemorated, standeth even upon a firmer basis than that there ever was such a man as king Alexander [the Great] in the world, of whose reign there is no such abiding monument at this day to be found any where. Nor will they, I dare say, who quarrel at this or any other of the sacred histories, find it a very easy matter to reconcile the different accounts which were given by historians of the affairs of this king, or to confirm any one fact of his whatever with the same evidence which is here given for the principal fact in this sacred book, or even so much as to prove the existence of such a person, of whom so great things are related, but upon granting this Book of Esther, or sixth of Esdras, [as it is placed in some of the most ancient copies of the Vulgate,] to be a most true and certain history," etc.
 If the Chaldee paraphrast be in the right, that Artaxerxes intended to show Vashti to his guests naked, it is no wonder at all that she would not submit to such an indignity; but still if it were not so gross as that, yet it might, in the king's cups, be done in a way so indecent, as the Persian laws would not then bear, no more than the common laws of modesty. And that the king had some such design seems not improbable, for otherwise the principal of these royal guests could be no strangers to the queen, nor unapprized of her beauty, so far as decency admitted. However, since Providence was now paving the way for the introduction of a Jewess into the king's affections, in order to bring about one of the most wonderful deliverances which the Jewish or any other nation ever had, we need not be further solicitous about the motives by which the king was induced to divorce Vashti, and marry Esther.
 Herodotus says that this law [against any one's coming uncalled to the kings of Persia when they were sitting on their thrones] was first enacted by Deioces [i.e. by him who first withdrew the Medes from the dominion of the Assyrians, and himself first reigned over them]. Thus also, lays Spanheim, stood guards, with their axes, about the throne of Tenus, or Tenudus, that the offender might by them be punished immediately.
 Whether this adoration required of Mordecai to Haman were by him deemed too like the adoration due only to God, as Josephus seems here to think, as well as the Septuagint interpreters also, by their translation of Esther 13:12-14, or whether he thought he ought to pay no sort of adoration to an Amalekite, which nation had been such great sinners as to have been universally devoted to destruction by God himself, Exodus 17:14-16; 1 Samuel 15:18, or whether both causes concurred, cannot now, I doubt, be certainly determined.
 The true reason why king Artaxerxes did not here properly revoke his former barbarous decree for the universal slaughter of the Jews, but only empowered and encouraged the Jews to fight for their lives, and to kill their enemies, if they attempted their destruction, seems to have been that old law of the Medes and Persians, not yet laid aside, that whatever decree was signed both by the king and his lords could not be changed, but remained unalterable, Daniel 6:7-9, 12, 15, 17; Esther 1:19; 8:8. And Haman having engrossed the royal favor might perhaps have himself signed this decree for the Jews' slaughter instead of the ancient lords, and so might have rendered it by their rules irrevocable.
 These words give an intimation as if Artaxerxes suspected a deeper design in Haman than openly appeared, viz. that knowing the Jews would be faithful to him, and that he could never transfer the crown to his own family, who was an Agagite, Esther 3:1, 10, or of the posterity of Agag, the old king of the Amalekites, 1 Samuel 15:8, 32, 33, while they were alive, and spread over all his dominions, he therefore endeavored to destroy them. Nor is it to me improbable that those seventy-five thousand eight hundred of the Jews' enemies which were soon destroyed by the Jews, on the permission of the king, which must be on some great occasion, were Amalekites, their old and hereditary enemies, Exodus 17:14, 15; and that thereby was fulfilled Balaam's prophecy, "Amalek was the first of the nations, but his latter end shall be, that he perish for ever" Numbers 24:20.
 Take here part of Reland's note on this disputed passage: "In Josephus's copies these Hebrew words, 'days of Purim,' or ' lots,' as in the Greek copies of Esther, ch.9:26, 28-32, is read 'days of Phurim,' or 'days of protection,' but ought to be read' days of Parira,' as in the Hebrew; than which creation," says he, "nothing is more certain." And had we any assurance that Josephus's copy mentioned the "casting of lots," as our other copies do, Esther 3:7, I should fully agree with Reland; but, as it now stands, it seems to me by no means certain. As to this whole Book of Esther in the present Hebrew copy, it is so very imperfect, in a case where the providence of God was so very remarkable, and the Septuagint and Josephus have so much of religion, that it has not so much as the name of God once in it; and it is hard to say who made that epitome which the Masorites have given us for the genuine book itself; no religious Jews could well be the authors of it, whose education obliged them to have a constant regard to God, and whatsoever related to his worship; nor do we know that there ever was so imperfect a copy of it in the world till after the days of Barchochab, in the second century.
 Concerning this other Artaxerxes, called Muemon, and the Persian affliction and captivity of the Jews under him, occasioned by the murder of the high priest's brother in the holy house itself, see Authent. Rec. at large, p.49. And if any wonder why Josephus wholly omits the rest of the kings of Persia after Artaxerxes Mnemon, till he came to their last king Darius, who was conquered by Alexander the Great, I shall give them Vossius's and Dr. Hudson's answer, though in my own words, viz. that Josephus did not do ill in admitting those kings of Persia with whom the Jews had no concern, because he was giving the history of the Jews, and not of the Persians [which is a sufficient reason also why he entirely omits the history and the Book of Job, as not particularly relating to that nation]. He justly therefore returns to the Jewish affairs after the death of Longimanus, without any intention of Darius II. before Artaxerxes Mnemon, or of Ochus or Arogus, as the Canon of Ptolemy names them, after him. Nor had he probably mentioned this other Artaxerxes, unless Bagoses, one of the governors and commanders under him, had occasioned the pollution of the Jewish temple, and had greatly distressed the Jews upon that pollution.
 The place showed Alexander might be Daniel 7:6; 8:3-8, 20 -- 22; 11:3; some or all of them very plain predictions of Alexander's conquests and successors.