First English edition of the Nuremberg chronicle: being the Liber chronicarum of Dr. Hartmann Schedel…

Ezra (Esdras), a pious and learned man, was esteemed and regarded as a second Moses by the people. He, together with others, was the first to return from Babylonia; but prompted by fatherly concern, he went back there in order to be of service to many more people in bringing them back also. At this time he restored the laws and other holy books which the Chaldeans had burnt; and he also gave to the world a blessed testament in the form of books setting forth new experiences, and clearly written. After accomplishing this work with the aid of the Holy Spirit, he again returned with a great throng to Jerusalem, having the royal consent to teach the people. He died at a venerable age and was buried there.

Ezra (Greek from Esdras) was a celebrated priest and leader of the Jewish nation. He was "a ready scribe in the law," a learned, able, and faithful man, and appears to have enjoyed great consideration at the Persian court. During the eighty years embraced in his narrative, most of the reign of Cyrus passed, and the whole reign of Cambyses, Smerdis, Darius, Hystaspis, Xerxes, and eight years of Artaxerxes. From the last king he received letters, money, and very considerable help, and went at the head of a large party of returning exiles to Jerusalem in 487 BCE (Ezra 7). Here he instituted many reforms in the conduct of the people and in the public worship, and established synagogues, with reading of Scriptures and prayers (Ezra 8-10; Neh. 8). After this he generally believed to have written the books of Chronicles, Ezra, and part of Nehemiah; and to have collected and revised all the books of the Old Testament which form the present canon. In his work he was aided by Nehemiah and probably Malachi.

The Book of Ezra contains a history written partly in Chaldea, of the return of the Jews from the time of Cyrus (ch 1-6); then, sixty years later, and comprising a single year (ch. 7-10), an account of his own subsequent proceedings. There are two apocryphal books ascribed to him under the name of Esdras.

Darius was a cousin of Astyages, who gave him the kingdom. Both were defeated by Cyrus, who was the first king of the Persians, and the monarchy was added to Persia. He defeated the Babylonians and slew Belshazzar, elevated Daniel, and permitted Israel to return and to rebuild the Temple; and he took good care of these captives. Cyrus bestowed Hyrcania on Astyages, and Media upon Darius.

Nehemiah was a cupbearer to Artaxerxes the king of Persia, and was sent by him to restore the walls of Jerusalem. This he did during the captivity. He was a very good and pious man. When he accomplished this work of God, and found a miraculous fire, he dedicated the wall and returned to the king. Afterwards he again returned to Jerusalem. There he died and was buried beside the wall which he had constructed.[Nehemiah was of the tribe of Judah. He was born at Babylon during the captivity, and held the office of cupbearer to the Persian king Artaxerxes at Susa. Touched by the calamitous state of the colony of Jews which had formerly returned to Jerusalem, he laid their case before God in penitent and importunate prayer, and at length begged the king to permit him to go to Jerusalem and aid in rebuilding it. He was accordingly sent there as governor about 444 BCE, and directed his attention chiefly to the task of rebuilding the walls. The enmity of the Samaritans, under which the colony had formerly suffered, was not increased. Under great difficulties the wall was completed in one year. Nehemiah also instituted many civic improvements. In 432 BCE he returned to his post at the court of Babylon, but was later recalled to Jerusalem to reform certain growing irregularities—neglect of the Temple services, breaches of the Sabbath, intermarriage with pagans, etc. The Jews who had married pagan wives, he compelled to abandon them, or quit the country. He rededicated the Temple, suppressed usury and exaction from the poor, fed the destitute, and provided for the Temple service. ]

Cambyses (Cambises), son of Cyrus, and second king of Persia, assumed the throne in the sixtieth year of the Jewish captivity and he reigned eight years. By Ezra he is called Artaxerxes or Ahasuerus (Assuerus)[], and in the Book of Judith he is referred to as the ancestor of Nebuchadnezzar. He forbade the building of the city of Jerusalem and its Temple. After he assumed the sovereignty he acted with military distinction and justice, but with an admixture of cruelty and haughtiness toward his subjects; and in the latter qualities he excelled his father. He subjugated the Ethiopians, conducted many wars through Holofernes, journeyed to Egypt and there overran many lands, and there he built a second Babylon. Valerius says that Cambyses caused an unjust judge to be flayed, and his skin to be stretched upon the judgment seat, and he appointed the judge's son to sit on it as a judge in his father's place.[Cambyses, second king of Persia, reigned 529-522 BCE. In 525 he conquered Egypt; but an army which he sent against the Ammonians perished in the sands, and the forces which he led in person against the Ethiopians were compelled by failure of provisions to return. On his return to Memphis he treated the Egyptians with great cruelty, insulting their religion and killing their god Apis with his own hands. He acted tyrannically toward his own family and the Persians in general. He caused his own brother Smerdis to be murdered; but a Magian impersonated the deceased prince and set up a claim to the throne. Cambyses promptly set out from Egypt against the pretender, but died at Ecbatana in Syria of an accidental wound. His crimes provoked the rebellion in which the pseudo-Smerdis secured the throne.]

Mordecai (Mardocheus), the holy man, was at this time highly renowned throughout the kingdom of Persia. He flourished in the year 295, according to the Latin reckoning.[Mordecai, one of those who returned from the Babylonian captivity with Zerubbabel (Ezra 2:2; Neh. 7:7).]

Smerdis, third king of Persia, reigned seven months in the sixty-eighth year of the Jewish captivity, for Cambyses died without heirs. Patizithes (Patizetes), whom Cambyses had placed in charge of his possessions, proclaimed as king his own brother, who had the same name and bore a likeness to the king, and he killed the elder one. Because of this treacherous deceit, Darius, the son of Hystaspis (Histaspis), soon afterwards killed this second Smerdis and his brother Patizithes; and after three days he himself was made king of the Persians.

Smerdis, son of Cyrus, was murdered by order of his brother Cambyses. The death was kept a profound secret; and accordingly when the Persians became weary of the tyranny of Cambyses, one of the Magians, name Patizithes, who had been left by Cambyses in charge of his palace and treasures, availed himself of the likeness of his brother to the deceased Smerdis, to proclaim this brother king, representing him as the younger son of Cyrus. Cambyses heard of the revolt while in Syria, but he died of an accidental wound in the thigh as he was mounting his horse to march against the usurper.

The Persians acknowledged the pseudo-Smerdis as king, and he reigned for seven months without opposition. The leading Persian nobles were not, however, free from suspicion, and this suspicion was increased because the king never invited any of them to the palace, and never appeared in public. Among these nobles was Otanes, whose daughter Phaedima had been one of the wives of Cambyses, and had been transferred to his successor. The new king had some years before being deprived of his ears by Cyrus for some offense. Otanes persuaded his daughter to ascertain whether her master had really lost his ears. Having ascertained that such was the fact and given the information to her father, the latter formed a conspiracy, and in conjunction with other Persian nobles, succeeded in forcing his way into the palace, where they slew the false Smerdis and his brother Patizithes in the eighth month of their reign, 521. The usurpation of the false Smerdis was an attempt on the part of the Medes, to whom the Magians belonged, to obtain the supremacy, of which they had been deprived by Cyrus. The assassination of the false Smerdis and the accession of Darius Hystaspis again gave the ascendancy to the Persians; and the anniversary of the day on which the Magians were massacred, was commemorated among the Persians by a solemn festival, called Magophonia. On this day no Magian was allowed to show himself in public. The nature of the transaction is also shown by the revolt of the Medes that followed the ascension of Darius.

Holofernes, a general of the hosts of Nebuchadnezzar, subjugated much territory for him; and finally marched against Bethulia; and there he was slain in his bedchamber by Judith, a widow of rare disposition and incredible beauty, and all his hosts dispersed. After she had done away with Holofernes she was held in esteem by the Jews to such an extent that for the rest of her days she was honored and elevated by praises of her victory and everlastingly prized. And when she had attained the age of one hundred and fifty years she was buried beside her husband with great pomp and lamentations.[According to the Book of Judith, one of the books of the Apochrypha, Arphaxad, king of Ecbatana fortified his city. Nebuchadnezzar, king of the Assyrians at Nineveh, made war against him, and summoned all who dwelled in the lands between Persia and Memphis to his aid. They refused. Vowing vengeance, he marched alone against Arphaxad and destroyed him. Later he appoints Holofernes general over his army, and sends him against the nations which refused to aid him. He lays siege to Bethulia, a city of the Israelites. They lose heart and urge Ozias and the rulers to give way. Now in those days there lived a widow named Judith, of rare piety and beauty. She blames Ozias and the rulers for considering submission, and urges them to place their trust in God. The rulers excuse themselves, and Judith promises to do for them something that shall go down to all generations. She decks herself bravely and goes to the camp of Holofernes accompanied by her maid, who carries a bottle of wine, a cruse of oil, and a bag filled with parched corn and fine bread and cheese. She tells him that her nation cannot be punished, neither can the sword prevail against them, except they sin against their God, but that now they are about to eat all those things which God charged them not to eat, and that they will therefore be delivered into his hands. She offers to show the way to the town, and to lead him until he comes to Jerusalem. Holfernes is pleased and invites her to a banquet, and she accepts. He drinks deeply and is left alone with her. Praying to God for strength, she smites off his head with his own scimitar; and putting the head into her bag of victuals, she hastens to Bethulia. The next morning the Israelites fall upon their besiegers, who, finding their leader dead, lose heart and flee in wild disorder. After a long life Judith dies at the age of 105 years, and was buried at Bethulia in the cave of her husband Manasseh. ]



Judith is here represented by a special woodcut. She wears the headdress and garb of the time of woodcutter. Her veil flutters about her, and in her right hand she holds a sword on the extreme sharp point of which is poised, like a marshmallow for toasting, the head of Holofernes. His eyes are closed in death, his mouth is wide open. The other hand of the heroine is engaged in bestowing a blessing.

With the exceptions of the portrait of Ezra (labeled Edras, a misspelling of Esdras) and the special woodcut of Judith and Holofernes, all of the portraits on this page are different in the German edition of the Chronicle.