Bible: Ezra 1-6
The Decree of Cyrus
In the first 2 year of King Cyrus of Persia, in order to fulfill the
1:2 “Thus says King Cyrus of Persia:
The Exiles Prepare to Return to Jerusalem
1:5 Then the leaders 15 of Judah and Benjamin, along with the priests and the Levites – all those whose mind God had stirred – got ready 16 to go up in order to build the temple of the
1:7 Then King Cyrus brought out the vessels of the
1:9 The inventory 27 of these items was as follows:
30 gold basins, 28
1,000 silver basins,
29 silver utensils, 29
1:10 30 gold bowls,
410 other 30 silver bowls,
and 1,000 other vessels.
1:11 All these gold and silver vessels totaled 5,400. 31 Sheshbazzar brought them all along when the captives were brought up from Babylon to Jerusalem.2:1
The Names of the Returning Exiles
These are the people 33 of the province who were going up, 34 from the captives of the exile whom King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had forced into exile in Babylon. They returned to Jerusalem 35 and Judah, each to his own city. 2:2 They came with Zerubbabel, Jeshua, Nehemiah, Seraiah, Reelaiah, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispar, Bigvai, Rehum, and Baanah.
2:3 the descendants 38 of Parosh: 2,172;
2:4 the descendants of Shephatiah: 372;
2:5 the descendants of Arah: 775;
2:7 the descendants of Elam: 1,254;
2:8 the descendants of Zattu: 945;
2:9 the descendants of Zaccai: 760;
2:10 the descendants of Bani: 642;
2:11 the descendants of Bebai: 623;
2:12 the descendants of Azgad: 1,222;
2:13 the descendants of Adonikam: 666;
2:14 the descendants of Bigvai: 2,056;
2:15 the descendants of Adin: 454;
2:16 the descendants of Ater (through 41 Hezekiah): 98;
2:17 the descendants of Bezai: 323;
2:18 the descendants of Jorah: 112;
2:19 the descendants of Hashum: 223;
2:20 the descendants of Gibbar: 95.
2:22 the men of Netophah: 56;
2:23 the men of Anathoth: 128;
2:24 the men of the family 44 of Azmaveth: 42;
2:25 the men of Kiriath Jearim, 45 Kephirah and Beeroth: 743;
2:26 the men of Ramah and Geba: 621;
2:27 the men of Micmash: 122;
2:28 the men of Bethel 46 and Ai: 223;
2:29 the descendants of Nebo: 52;
2:30 the descendants of Magbish: 156;
2:31 the descendants of the other Elam: 1,254;
2:32 the descendants of Harim: 320;
2:33 the men of Lod, Hadid, and Ono: 725;
2:34 the men of Jericho: 47 345;
2:35 the descendants of Senaah: 3,630.
2:36 The priests: the descendants of Jedaiah (through the family 48 of Jeshua): 973;
2:37 the descendants of Immer: 1,052;
2:38 the descendants of Pashhur: 1,247;
2:39 the descendants of Harim: 1,017.
2:40 The Levites: the descendants of Jeshua and Kadmiel (through the line of Hodaviah): 74.
2:41 The singers: the descendants of Asaph: 128.
2:42 The gatekeepers: 49 the descendants of Shallum, the descendants of Ater, the descendants of Talmon, the descendants of Akkub, the descendants of Hatita, and the descendants of Shobai: 139.
2:43 The temple servants: the descendants of Ziha, the descendants of Hasupha, the descendants of Tabbaoth, 2:44 the descendants of Keros, the descendants of Siaha, the descendants of Padon, 2:45 the descendants of Lebanah, the descendants of Hagabah, the descendants of Akkub, 2:46 the descendants of Hagab, the descendants of Shalmai, 50 the descendants of Hanan, 2:47 the descendants of Giddel, the descendants of Gahar, the descendants of Reaiah, 2:48 the descendants of Rezin, the descendants of Nekoda, the descendants of Gazzam, 2:49 the descendants of Uzzah, the descendants of Paseah, the descendants of Besai, 2:50 the descendants of Asnah, the descendants of Meunim, the descendants of Nephussim, 2:51 the descendants of Bakbuk, the descendants of Hakupha, the descendants of Harhur, 2:52 the descendants of Bazluth, the descendants of Mehida, the descendants of Harsha, 2:53 the descendants of Barkos, the descendants of Sisera, the descendants of Temah, 2:54 the descendants of Neziah, and the descendants of Hatipha.
2:55 The descendants of the servants of Solomon: the descendants of Sotai, the descendants of Hassophereth, the descendants of Peruda, 2:56 the descendants of Jaala, the descendants of Darkon, the descendants of Giddel, 2:57 the descendants of Shephatiah, the descendants of Hattil, the descendants of Pokereth-Hazzebaim, and the descendants of Ami.
2:58 All the temple servants and the descendants of the servants of Solomon: 392.
2:59 These are the ones that came up from Tel Melah, Tel Harsha, Kerub, Addon, and Immer (although they were unable to certify 51 their family connection 52 or their ancestry, 53 as to whether they really were from Israel):
2:60 the descendants of Delaiah, the descendants of Tobiah, and the descendants of Nekoda: 652.
2:61 And from among 54 the priests: the descendants of Hobaiah, the descendants of Hakkoz, and the descendants of Barzillai (who had taken a wife from the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite and was called by that 55 name). 2:62 They 56 searched for their records in the genealogical materials, but did not find them. 57 They were therefore excluded 58 from the priesthood. 2:63 The governor 59 instructed them not to eat any of the sacred food until there was a priest who could consult 60 the Urim and Thummim.
2:64 The entire group numbered 42,360, 61 2:65 not counting 62 their male and female servants, who numbered 7,337. They also had 200 male and female singers 2:66 and 736 horses, 245 mules, 2:67 435 camels, and 6,720 donkeys. 2:68 When they came to the
2:70 The priests, the Levites, some of the people, the singers, the gatekeepers, and the temple servants lived in their towns, and all the rest of Israel lived in their towns.
The Altar is Rebuilt
3:1 When the seventh month arrived and the Israelites 69 were living 70 in their 71 towns, the people assembled 72 in 73 Jerusalem. 74 3:2 Then Jeshua the son of Jozadak 75 and his priestly colleagues 76 and Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and his colleagues 77 started to build 78 the altar of the God of Israel so they could offer burnt offerings on it as required by 79 the law of Moses the man of God. 3:3 They established the altar on its foundations, even though they were in terror of the local peoples, 80 and they offered burnt offerings on it to the
Preparations for Rebuilding the Temple
3:7 So they provided money 85 for the masons and carpenters, and food, beverages, and olive oil for the people of Sidon 86 and Tyre, 87 so that they would bring cedar timber from Lebanon to the seaport 88 at Joppa, in accord with the edict of King Cyrus of Persia. 3:8 In the second year after they had come to the temple of God in Jerusalem, 89 in the second month, Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and Jeshua the son of Jozadak initiated the work, 90 along with the rest of their associates, 91 the priests and the Levites, and all those who were coming to Jerusalem from the exile. They appointed 92 the Levites who were at least twenty years old 93 to take charge of the work on the
“For he is good;
his loyal love toward Israel is forever.”
All the people gave a loud 101 shout as they praised the
Opposition to the Building Efforts
4:1 When the enemies of Judah and Benjamin learned that the former exiles 106 were building a temple for the
Official Complaints Are Lodged Against the Jews
At the beginning of the reign of Ahasuerus 120 they filed an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem. 121 4:7 And during the reign 122 of Artaxerxes, Bishlam, 123 Mithredath, Tabeel, and the rest of their colleagues 124 wrote to King Artaxerxes 125 of Persia. This letter 126 was first written in Aramaic but then translated.
4:8 Rehum the commander 128 and Shimshai the scribe 129 wrote a letter concerning 130 Jerusalem to King Artaxerxes as follows: 4:9 From 131 Rehum the commander, Shimshai the scribe, and the rest of their colleagues – the judges, the rulers, the officials, the secretaries, the Erechites, the Babylonians, the people of Susa (that is, 132 the Elamites), 4:10 and the rest of nations whom the great and noble Ashurbanipal 133 deported and settled in the cities 134 of Samaria and other places in Trans-Euphrates. 135 4:11 (This is a copy of the letter they sent to him:)
“To King Artaxerxes, 136 from your servants in 137 Trans-Euphrates: 4:12 Now 138 let the king be aware that the Jews who came up to us from you have gone to Jerusalem. They are rebuilding that rebellious and odious city. 139 They are completing its walls and repairing its foundations. 4:13 Let the king also be aware that if this city is built and its walls are completed, no more tax, custom, or toll will be paid, and the royal treasury 140 will suffer loss. 4:14 In light of the fact that we are loyal to the king, 141 and since it does not seem appropriate to us that the king should sustain damage, 142 we are sending the king this information 143 4:15 so that he may initiate a search of the records 144 of his predecessors 145 and discover in those records 146 that this city is rebellious 147 and injurious to both kings and provinces, producing internal revolts 148 from long ago. 149 It is for this very reason that this city was destroyed. 4:16 We therefore are informing the king that if this city is rebuilt and its walls are completed, you will not retain control 150 of this portion of Trans-Euphrates.”
4:17 The king sent the following response:
“To Rehum the commander, Shimshai the scribe, and the rest of their colleagues who live in Samaria and other parts of Trans-Euphrates: Greetings! 151 4:18 The letter you sent to us has been translated and read in my presence. 4:19 So I gave orders, 152 and it was determined 153 that this city from long ago has been engaging in insurrection against kings. It has continually engaged in 154 rebellion and revolt. 4:20 Powerful kings have been over Jerusalem who ruled throughout the entire Trans-Euphrates 155 and who were the beneficiaries of 156 tribute, custom, and toll. 4:21 Now give orders that these men cease their work and that this city not be rebuilt until such time as I so instruct. 157 4:22 Exercise appropriate caution so that there is no negligence in this matter. Why should danger increase to the point that kings sustain damage?”
4:23 Then, as soon as the copy of the letter from King Artaxerxes was read in the presence of Rehum, Shimshai the scribe, and their colleagues, they proceeded promptly to the Jews in Jerusalem 158 and stopped them with threat of armed force. 159
4:24 So the work on the temple of God in Jerusalem came to a halt. It remained halted until the second year of the reign of King Darius of Persia. 160
Tattenai Appeals to Darius
5:1 Then the prophets Haggai and Zechariah son 161 of Iddo 162 prophesied concerning the Jews who were in Judah and Jerusalem 163 in the name of the God of Israel who was over them. 5:2 Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and Jeshua the son of Jozadak began 164 to rebuild the temple of God in Jerusalem. The prophets of God were with them, supporting them.
5:3 At that time Tattenai governor of Trans-Euphrates, Shethar-Bozenai, and their colleagues came to them and asked, “Who gave you authority 165 to rebuild this temple and to complete this structure?” 166 5:4 They 167 also asked them, “What are the names of the men who are building this edifice?” 5:5 But God was watching over 168 the elders of Judah, and they were not stopped 169 until a report could be dispatched 170 to Darius and a letter could be sent back concerning this.
5:6 This is a copy of the letter that Tattenai governor of Trans-Euphrates, Shethar-Bozenai, and his colleagues who were the officials of Trans-Euphrates sent to King Darius. 5:7 The report they sent to him was written as follows: 171
“To King Darius: All greetings! 172 5:8 Let it be known to the king that we have gone to the province of Judah, to the temple of the great God. It is being built with large stones, 173 and timbers are being placed in the walls. This work is being done with all diligence and is prospering in their hands. 5:9 We inquired of those elders, asking them, ‘Who gave you the authority to rebuild this temple and to complete this structure?’ 5:10 We also inquired of their names in order to inform you, so that we might write the names of the men who were their leaders. 5:11 They responded to us in the following way: ‘We are servants of the God of heaven and earth. We are rebuilding the temple which was previously built many years ago. A great king 174 of Israel built it and completed it. 5:12 But after our ancestors 175 angered the God of heaven, he delivered them into the hands 176 of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, the Chaldean, who destroyed this temple and exiled the people to Babylon. 177 5:13 But in the first year of King Cyrus of Babylon, 178 King Cyrus enacted a decree to rebuild this temple of God. 5:14 Even the gold and silver vessels of the temple of God that Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple in Jerusalem and had brought to the palace 179 of Babylon – even those things King Cyrus brought from the palace of Babylon and presented 180 to a man by the name of Sheshbazzar whom he had appointed as governor. 5:15 He said to him, “Take these vessels and go deposit them in the temple in Jerusalem, and let the house of God be rebuilt in its proper location.” 181 5:16 Then this Sheshbazzar went and laid the foundations of the temple of God in Jerusalem. From that time to the present moment 182 it has been in the process of being rebuilt, although it is not yet finished.’
5:17 “Now if the king is so inclined, 183 let a search be conducted in the royal archives 184 there in Babylon in order to determine whether King Cyrus did in fact issue orders for this temple of God to be rebuilt in Jerusalem. Then let the king send us a decision concerning this matter.”
Darius Issues a Decree
6:1 So Darius the king issued orders, and they searched in the archives 185 of the treasury which were deposited there in Babylon. 6:2 A scroll was found in the citadel 186 of Ecbatana which is in the province of Media, and it was inscribed as follows:
“Memorandum: 6:3 In the first year of his reign, 187 King Cyrus gave orders concerning the temple of God in Jerusalem: 188 ‘Let the temple be rebuilt as a place where sacrifices are offered. Let its foundations be set in place. 189 Its height is to be ninety feet and its width ninety 190 feet, 191 6:4 with three layers of large stones 192 and one 193 layer of timber. The expense is to be subsidized 194 by the royal treasury. 195 6:5 Furthermore let the gold and silver vessels of the temple of God, which Nebuchadnezzar brought from the temple in Jerusalem and carried to Babylon, be returned and brought to their proper place in the temple in Jerusalem. Let them be deposited in the temple of God.’
6:6 “Now Tattenai governor of Trans-Euphrates, Shethar Bozenai, and their colleagues, the officials of Trans-Euphrates – all of you stay far away from there! 6:7 Leave the work on this temple of God alone. 196 Let the governor of the Jews and the elders of the Jews rebuild this temple of God in its proper place.
6:8 “I also hereby issue orders as to what you are to do with those elders of the Jews in order to rebuild this temple of God. From the royal treasury, from the taxes of Trans-Euphrates the complete costs are to be given to these men, so that there may be no interruption of the work. 197 6:9 Whatever is needed – whether oxen or rams or lambs or burnt offerings for the God of heaven or wheat or salt or wine or oil, as required by 198 the priests who are in Jerusalem – must be given to them daily without any neglect, 6:10 so that they may be offering incense to the God of heaven and may be praying for the good fortune of the king and his family. 199
6:11 “I hereby give orders that if anyone changes this directive a beam is to be pulled out from his house and he is to be raised up and impaled 200 on it, and his house is to be reduced 201 to a rubbish heap 202 for this indiscretion. 203 6:12 May God who makes his name to reside there overthrow any king or nation 204 who reaches out 205 to cause such change so as to destroy this temple of God in Jerusalem. I, Darius, have given orders. Let them be carried out with precision!”
The Temple Is Finally Dedicated
6:13 Then Tattenai governor of Trans-Euphrates, Shethar-Bozenai, and their colleagues acted accordingly – with precision, just as Darius the king had given instructions. 206 6:14 The elders of the Jews continued building and prospering, while at the same time 207 Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo continued prophesying. They built and brought it to completion by the command of the God of Israel and by the command of Cyrus and Darius and Artaxerxes king of Persia. 6:15 They finished this temple on the third day of the month Adar, which is the sixth 208 year of the reign of King Darius.
6:16 The people 209 of Israel – the priests, the Levites, and the rest of the exiles 210 – observed the dedication of this temple of God with joy. 6:17 For the dedication of this temple of God they offered one hundred bulls, two hundred rams, four hundred lambs, and twelve male goats for the sin of all Israel, according to the number of the tribes of Israel. 6:18 They appointed the priests by their divisions and the Levites by their divisions over the worship of God at Jerusalem, 211 in accord with 212 the book of Moses. 6:19 213 The exiles 214 observed the Passover on the fourteenth day of the first month. 6:20 The priests and the Levites had purified themselves, every last one, 215 and they all were ceremonially pure. They sacrificed the Passover lamb for all the exiles, for their colleagues 216 the priests, and for themselves. 6:21 The Israelites who were returning from the exile ate it, along with all those who had joined them 217 in separating themselves from the uncleanness of the nations of the land to seek the