Bible: Ezra 5:1-6:22

Tattenai Appeals to Darius

5:1 Then the prophets Haggai and Zechariah son 1  of Iddo 2  prophesied concerning the Jews who were in Judah and Jerusalem 3  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 4  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 5  to rebuild this temple and to complete this structure? 6  5:4 They 7  also asked them, “What are the names of the men who are building this edifice? 5:5 But God was watching over 8  the elders of Judah, and they were not stopped 9  until a report could be dispatched 10  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: 11 

“To King Darius: All greetings! 12  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, 13  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 14  of Israel built it and completed it. 5:12 But after our ancestors 15  angered the God of heaven, he delivered them into the hands 16  of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, the Chaldean, who destroyed this temple and exiled the people to Babylon. 17  5:13 But in the first year of King Cyrus of Babylon, 18  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 19  of Babylon – even those things King Cyrus brought from the palace of Babylon and presented 20  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.” 21  5:16 Then this Sheshbazzar went and laid the foundations of the temple of God in Jerusalem. From that time to the present moment 22  it has been in the process of being rebuilt, although it is not yet finished.’

5:17Now if the king is so inclined, 23  let a search be conducted in the royal archives 24  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 25  of the treasury which were deposited there in Babylon. 6:2 A scroll was found in the citadel 26  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, 27  King Cyrus gave orders concerning the temple of God in Jerusalem: 28  ‘Let the temple be rebuilt as a place where sacrifices are offered. Let its foundations be set in place. 29  Its height is to be ninety feet and its width ninety 30  feet, 31  6:4 with three layers of large stones 32  and one 33  layer of timber. The expense is to be subsidized 34  by the royal treasury. 35  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.’

6:6Now 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. 36  Let the governor of the Jews and the elders of the Jews rebuild this temple of God in its proper place.

6:8I 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. 37  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 38  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. 39 

6:11I 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 40  on it, and his house is to be reduced 41  to a rubbish heap 42  for this indiscretion. 43  6:12 May God who makes his name to reside there overthrow any king or nation 44  who reaches out 45  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. 46  6:14 The elders of the Jews continued building and prospering, while at the same time 47  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 48  year of the reign of King Darius.

6:16 The people 49  of Israel – the priests, the Levites, and the rest of the exiles 50 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, 51  in accord with 52  the book of Moses. 6:19 53  The exiles 54  observed the Passover on the fourteenth day of the first month. 6:20 The priests and the Levites had purified themselves, every last one, 55  and they all were ceremonially pure. They sacrificed the Passover lamb for all the exiles, for their colleagues 56  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 57  in separating themselves from the uncleanness of the nations of the land to seek the Lord God of Israel. 6:22 They observed the Feast of Unleavened Bread for seven days with joy, for the Lord had given them joy and had changed the opinion 58  of the king of Assyria 59  toward them, so that he assisted 60  them in the work on the temple of God, the God of Israel.

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