History, in general, only informs us of what bad government is. — Thomas Jefferson

Story of the Bible Told for Young and Old - Jesse Hurlbut




The Scribe Who Wrote the Old Testament


From the court of the great king at Shushan we turn once more to the Jews at Jerusalem and in Judea. For a long time after the first company came to the land under Zerubbabel (see Story Thirteen in this Part) very few Jews from other countries joined them. The Jews in Judea were poor, and discouraged. Many of them had borrowed money which they could not pay, and had been sold as slaves to richer Jews. Around them on every side were their enemies, the idol-worshipping people in the land, and the Samaritans on the north. These enemies robbed them of their crops in the field, and they also constantly sent evil and false reports of them to the Persian governors. Many of the men of Israel had married women of the land not of the Israelite race, and their children were growing up half heathen and half Jewish, unable to talk in the language of their fathers, and knowing nothing of the true God.

Ninety years after the Jews had come back to the land Jerusalem was a small town, with many of its hold houses still in ruins, and no wall around it. In those times no city could be safe from its enemies without a wall; so that Jerusalem lay helpless against bands of robbers who came up from the desert and carried away nearly all that the people could earn.

Just at the time when the land was in the deepest need God raised up two men to help his people. These two men were Ezra and Nehemiah. Through Ezra the people of Judah were led back to their God, to worship him, to serve him, and especially to love God's book as they never had loved it before. And about the same time Nehemiah gave new hope, and courage, and strength to the people by helping them to build a wall around Jerusalem. The work of these two men brought to Judea peace and plenty, and led many Jews from other lands to their own country.

Ezra was a priest, living in the city of Babylon, though he had sprung from the family of Aaron, the first priest. He was also a prophet, through whom God spoke to his people. But above all, Ezra was a lover of God's book I a time when the book of the Lord was almost forgotten. Nearly all the books of what we call the Old testament had been written for a long time; but in those days there were no printed books; each copy was written separately with a pen; and as the labor was great, there were very few copies of the different blocks of the Bible. And these copies were in different places; one book of the Bible was in one place, another book was in another place. No one man in those times before Ezra had ever owned or had ever seen the whole of the Old Testament in one book or set of books.

Ezra began to seek everywhere among the Jews for copies of these different books. Whenever he found one he wrote it out, and kept the copy, and also led other men to copy the books as they found them. At last Ezra had copies written of all the books in the Old Testament except the very latest books. They were written very nearly as we have them now, except that his copies were all in Hebrew, the language spoken by the men who wrote most of the Old Testament.

Ezra put all these different books together, making one book out of many books. This great book was written on parchment, or sheepskin, in long rolls, as in old time all books were written. When the book was finished it was called "The Book of the Law," because it contained God's law for his people, as given through Moses, and Samuel, and David, and Isaiah, and all the other prophets.

When Ezra had finished writing this book of the law, he went on a long journey through Babylon to Judea, taking with him the rolls of the book. With Ezra went a company of men whom he had taught to love the law, to write copies of it, to read it, and to teach it to others. These men, who gave their lives to studying, and copying, and teaching the law, were called "scribes," a word which means "writers."

Ezra was the first and the greatest of these scribes; but from his time there were many scribes among the Jews, both in Judea and in all other lands. For wherever the Jews lived they began to read the Bible and to love it. The time came, soon after Ezra's day, when in every place where the Jews met to worship at least one copy of all the books in the Old Testament was kept; so that there was no more danger that the Bible, or any part of it, would be lost.

You remember that there was only one Temple for all the Jews in the world, and only one altar. Upon this one altar, and there alone, was offered the sacrifice every day. But the Jews in distant places needed to meet together for worship, and there grew up among the Jews everywhere what was called "the Synagogue," a word which means "coming together." At first they met in a room, but afterward they built houses for the synagogues much like our churches. Some of these synagogues were large and beautiful, and in them the people met every week to worship God, to sing the psalms, to hear the law and the prophets read, and to talk together about what they had heard. It was something like a prayer-meeting; for any Jew who wished to speak in the meeting could do so. The men sat on mats laid on the floor; the rulers of the synagogue were on seats raised up above the rest; the women were in a gallery on one side, covered with a lattice-work, so that they could see and hear, but could not be seen. And on the end of the room nearest to Jerusalem there was a large box or chest, called "the ark," within which were kept the copies of the books of the Old Testament. Thus through the synagogue all the Jews in the world listened to the reading of the Old Testament until very many of them knew every word of it by heart. All this came to pass from Ezra's work in copying and teaching the word of the Lord.

And Ezra wrought another work almost as great as that of giving the Bible to the world. He taught the Jewish people, first in Israel, and then in other lands, that they were the people of God, and that they must live apart from other nations. If they had gone on marrying women of other races, who worshipped other gods, after a time there would have been no Jews, and no worshippers of God. Ezra made some of them give up their wives of other nations, and he taught the Jews to be a people by themselves, keeping away from those who worshipped idols, even though they lived among them. Thus Ezra led the Jews to look upon themselves as a holy people, given up to the service of God; and he taught them to live apart from other nations, with their own customs and ways of living, and very exact in obeying the law of God in the books given by Moses, even in some things that would seem small and not important. They were to be trained age after age in the service and worship of God. It was God's will that the Jews should be separate from other peoples, and very strict in keeping their law, until the time should come for them to go out and preach the gospel to all the world.

The Jews even now in our time continue to keep many of the rules that were given to their fathers long ago by Ezra; so next to Moses, Ezra had greater power over the Jews than any other prophet or teacher.



Contents

Front Matter
Review

The Story of a Beautiful Garden
The First Baby in the World and His Brother
The Great Ship That Saved Eight People
The Tower That Was Never Finished
The Story of a Long Journey
How Abram's Choice Brought Blessing
The Angel by the Well
The Rain of Fire That Fell on a City
The Boy Who Became an Archer
How an Angel's Voice Saved a Boy's Life
The Story of a Journey after a Wife
How Jacob Stole His Brother's Blessing
Jacob's Wonderful Dream
A Midnight Wrestling Match
The Rich Man's Son Who Was Sold as a Slave
From the Prison to the Palace
How Joseph's Dream Came True
A Lost Brother Found
From the Land of Famine to the Land of Plenty
The Beautiful Baby Who Was Found in a River
The Voice from the Burning Bush
The River That Ran Blood
The Night When a Nation Was Born
How the Sea Became Dry Land and the Sky Rained Bre
The Mountain That Smoked and Words That Were Spoke
How Aaron Made a Golden Calf and What Became of It
The Tent Where God Lived Among His People
How They Worshipped God in the Tabernacle
What Strong Drink Brought to Aaron's Sons
The Scapegoat in the Wilderness
The Cluster of Grapes from the Land of Canaan
How the Long Journey of the Israelites Came to an
What a Wise Man Learned from an Ass
How Moses Looked upon the Promised Land
The Story of Job
The Story of a Scarlet Cord
How the River Jordan Became Dry
The Story of a Wedge of Gold
How Joshua Conquered the Land of Canaan
The Old Man Who Fought Against the Giants
The Avenger of Blook and the Cities of Refuge
The Story of an Altar Beside the River
The Presnt That Ehud Brought to King Eglon
How a Woman Won a Great Victory
Gideon and His Brave Three Hundred
Jephthah's Rash Promise and What Came from It
The Strong Man: How He Lived and How He Died
The Idol Temple at Dan and Its Priest
How Ruth Gleaned in the Field of Boaz
The Little Boy with a Linen Coat
How the Idol Fell Down Before the Ark
The Last of the Judges
The Tall Man Who Was Chosen King
How Saul Saved the Eyes of the Men of Jabesh
The Brave Young Prince
Saul's Great Sin and His Great Loss
The Shepherd Boy of Bethlehem
The Shepherd Boy's Fight with the Giant
The Little Boy Looking for the Arrows
Where David Found the Giant's Sword
How David Spared Saul's Life
The Last Days of King Saul
The Shepherd Boy Becomes a King
The Sound in the Treetops
The Cripple at the King's Table
The Prophet's Story of the Little Lamb
David's Handsome Son and How He Stole the Kingdom
Absalom in the Wood; David on the Throne
The Angel with the Drawn Sword on Mount Moriah
Solomon on This Father's Throne
The Wise Young King
The House of God on Mount Moriah
The Last Days of Solomon's Reign
The Breaking Up of a Great Kingdom
The King Who Led Israel to Sin
The Prophet Who Raised a Boy to Life
The Prayer That Was Answered in Fire
The Voice That Spoke to Elijah in the Mount
The Wounded Prophet and His Story
What Ahab Paid for His Vineyard
The Arrow That Killed a King
Elijah's Chariot of Fire
A Spring Sweetened by Salt
The Pot of Oil and the Pot of Poison
The Little Boy at Shunem
How a Little Girl Helped to Cure a Leper
The Chariots of Fire around Elisha
What the Lepers Found in the Camp
Jehu, the Furious Driver of His Chariot
Elisha and the Bow; Jonah and Nineveh
How the Ten Tribes Were Lost
The First Four Kings of Judah
The Little Boy Who Was Crowned King
Three Kings and a Great Prophet
The Good King Hezekiah
The Lost Book Found in the Temple
The Last Four Kings of Judah and the Weeping Proph
What Ezekiel Saw in the Valley
The Jewish Captives in the Court of the King
The Golden Image and the Fiery Furnace
The Tree That Was Cut Down and Grew Again
The Writing upon the Wall
Daniel in the Den of Lions
The Story of a Joyous Journey
The New Temple on Mount Moriah
The Beautiful Queen of Persia
The Scribe Who Wrote the Old Testament
The Nobleman Who Built the Wall of Jerusalem
Ezra's Great Bible Class in Jerusalem
The Angel by the Altar
The Manger of Bethlehem
The Star and the Wise Men
The Boy in his Father's House
The Prophet in the Wilderness
Jesus in the Desert, and beside the River
The Water Jars at the Wedding Feast
The Stranger at the Well
The Story of a Boy in Capernaum and a Riot
A Net Full of Fishes
The Leper and the Man Let Down through the Roof
The Cripple at the Pool and the Withered Hand
The Twelve Disciples and the Sermon on the Mount
The Captain's Servant, the Widow's Son, and a Sinn
Some Stories Jesus Told by the Sea
"Peace, Be Still"
The Little Girl Who Was Raised to Life
A Dancing Girl and What Was Given Her
The Feast beside the Sea and What Followed It
The Answer to a Mother's Prayer
The Glory of Jesus on the Mountain
The Little Child in the Arms of Jesus
At the Feast of Tabernacles
The Man with Clay on His Face
The Good Shepherd and the Good Samaritan
Lazarus Raised to Life
Some Parables in Perea
The Poor Rich Man and the Rich Poor Man
Jesus at Jericho
Palm Sunday
The Last Vistis of Jesus to the Temple
The Parables on the Mount of Olives
The Last Supper
The Olive Orchard and the High Priests Hall
The Crown of Thorns
The Darkest Day of All the World
The Brightest Day of All the World
The Stranger on the Shore
The Church of the First Days
The Man at the Beautiful Gate
The Right Way to Give, and the Wrong Way
Stephen with the Shining Face
The Man Reading in the Chariot
The Voice That Spoke to Saul
What Peter Saw by the Sea
How the Iron Gate Was Opened
The Earliest Missionaries
The Song in the Prison
Paul's Speech on the Hill
Paul at Corinth
Paul at Ephesus
Paul's Last Journey to Jerusalem
The Speech on the Stairs
Two Years in Prison
The Story That Paul Told to the King
Paul in the Storm
How Paul Came to Rome and How He Lived There
The Throne of God
The City of God