When the seventh month came and the Israelites had settled in their towns, the people assembled as one man in Jerusalem.
Then Jeshua son of Jozadak and his fellow priests and Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and his associates began to build the altar of the God of Israel to sacrifice burnt offerings on it, in accordance with what is written in the Law of Moses the man of God.
Despite their fear of the peoples around them, they built the altar on its foundation and sacrificed burnt offerings on it to the LORD, both the morning and evening sacrifices.
Then in accordance with what is written, they celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles with the required number of burnt offerings prescribed for each day.
After that, they presented the regular burnt offerings, the New Moon sacrifices and the sacrifices for all the appointed sacred feasts of the LORD, as well as those brought as freewill offerings to the LORD.
On the first day of the seventh month they began to offer burnt offerings to the LORD, though the foundation of the LORD's temple had not yet been laid.
Then they gave money to the masons and carpenters, and gave food and drink and oil to the people of Sidon and Tyre, so that they would bring cedar logs by sea from Lebanon to Joppa, as authorized by Cyrus king of Persia.
In the second month of the second year after their arrival at the house of God in Jerusalem, Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, Jeshua son of Jozadak and the rest of their brothers (the priests and the Levites and all who had returned from the captivity to Jerusalem) began the work, appointing Levites twenty years of age and older to supervise the building of the house of the LORD.
Jeshua and his sons and brothers and Kadmiel and his sons (descendants of Hodaviah ) and the sons of Henadad and their sons and brothers--all Levites--joined together in supervising those working on the house of God.
When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, the priests in their vestments and with trumpets, and the Levites (the sons of Asaph) with cymbals, took their places to praise the LORD, as prescribed by David king of Israel.
With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the LORD: "He is good; his love to Israel endures forever." And all the people gave a great shout of praise to the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid.
But many of the older priests and Levites and family heads, who had seen the former temple, wept aloud when they saw the foundation of this temple being laid, while many others shouted for joy.
No one could distinguish the sound of the shouts of joy from the sound of weeping, because the people made so much noise. And the sound was heard far away.
Jesus said to his disciples: "Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come.2It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin.3So watch yourselves. "If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him.4If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, 'I repent,' forgive him."5
The apostles said to the LORD, "Increase our faith!"
He replied, "If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it will obey you.7"Suppose one of you had a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Would he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, 'Come along now and sit down to eat'?8Would he not rather say, 'Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink'?9Would he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do?10So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, 'We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.' "
Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee.
As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance
and called out in a loud voice, "Jesus, Master, have pity on us!"
When he saw them, he said, "Go, show yourselves to the priests." And as they went, they were cleansed.
One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice.
He threw himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him--and he was a Samaritan.
Jesus asked, "Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?18Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?"19
Then he said to him, "Rise and go; your faith has made you well."
Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, "The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation,21nor will people say, 'Here it is,' or 'There it is,' because the kingdom of God is within you."22
Then he said to his disciples, "The time is coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it.23Men will tell you, 'There he is!' or 'Here he is!' Do not go running off after them.24For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other.25But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.26"Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man.27People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all.28"It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building.29But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all.30"It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed.31On that day no one who is on the roof of his house, with his goods inside, should go down to get them. Likewise, no one in the field should go back for anything.32Remember Lot's wife!33Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.34I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left.35Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left. "37
"Where, LORD?" they asked. He replied, "Where there is a dead body, there the vultures will gather."
Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.
He said: "In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men.3And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, 'Grant me justice against my adversary.'4"For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, 'Even though I don't fear God or care about men,5yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won't eventually wear me out with her coming!' "6
And the Lord said, "Listen to what the unjust judge says.7And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off ?8I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?"
To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable:
10"Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.11The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men--robbers, evildoers, adulterers--or even like this tax collector.12I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.'13"But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.'14"I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."
People were also bringing babies to Jesus to have him touch them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them.
But Jesus called the children to him and said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.17I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it."
A certain ruler asked him, "Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
19"Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good--except God alone.20You know the commandments: 'Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.' "21
"All these I have kept since I was a boy," he said.
When Jesus heard this, he said to him, "You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."23
When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth.
Jesus looked at him and said, "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!25Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."26
Those who heard this asked, "Who then can be saved?"
Jesus replied, "What is impossible with men is possible with God."28
Peter said to him, "We have left all we had to follow you!"
29"I tell you the truth," Jesus said to them, "no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God30will fail to receive many times as much in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life."
Jesus took the Twelve aside and told them, "We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled.32He will be handed over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him, spit on him, flog him and kill him.33On the third day he will rise again."34
The disciples did not understand any of this. Its meaning was hidden from them, and they did not know what he was talking about.
As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging.
When he heard the crowd going by, he asked what was happening.
They told him, "Jesus of Nazareth is passing by."
He called out, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!"
Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, "Son of David, have mercy on me!"
Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him,
41"What do you want me to do for you?" "Lord, I want to see," he replied.
Jesus said to him, "Receive your sight; your faith has healed you."43
Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they also praised God.
When the enemies of Judah and Benjamin heard that the exiles were building a temple for the LORD, the God of Israel,
they came to Zerubbabel and to the heads of the families and said, "Let us help you build because, like you, we seek your God and have been sacrificing to him since the time of Esarhaddon king of Assyria, who brought us here."
But Zerubbabel, Jeshua and the rest of the heads of the families of Israel answered, "You have no part with us in building a temple to our God. We alone will build it for the LORD, the God of Israel, as King Cyrus, the king of Persia, commanded us."
Then the peoples around them set out to discourage the people of Judah and make them afraid to go on building.
They hired counselors to work against them and frustrate their plans during the entire reign of Cyrus king of Persia and down to the reign of Darius king of Persia.
At the beginning of the reign of Xerxes, they lodged an accusation against the people of Judah and Jerusalem.
And in the days of Artaxerxes king of Persia, Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel and the rest of his associates wrote a letter to Artaxerxes. The letter was written in Aramaic script and in the Aramaic language.
Rehum the commanding officer and Shimshai the secretary wrote a letter against Jerusalem to Artaxerxes the king as follows:
Rehum the commanding officer and Shimshai the secretary, together with the rest of their associates--the judges and officials over the men from Tripolis, Persia, Erech and Babylon, the Elamites of Susa,
and the other people whom the great and honorable Ashurbanipal deported and settled in the city of Samaria and elsewhere in Trans-Euphrates.
(This is a copy of the letter they sent him.) To King Artaxerxes, From your servants, the men of Trans-Euphrates:
The king should know that the Jews who came up to us from you have gone to Jerusalem and are rebuilding that rebellious and wicked city. They are restoring the walls and repairing the foundations.
Furthermore, the king should know that if this city is built and its walls are restored, no more taxes, tribute or duty will be paid, and the royal revenues will suffer.
Now since we are under obligation to the palace and it is not proper for us to see the king dishonored, we are sending this message to inform the king,
so that a search may be made in the archives of your predecessors. In these records you will find that this city is a rebellious city, troublesome to kings and provinces, a place of rebellion from ancient times. That is why this city was destroyed.
We inform the king that if this city is built and its walls are restored, you will be left with nothing in Trans-Euphrates.
The king sent this reply: To Rehum the commanding officer, Shimshai the secretary and the rest of their associates living in Samaria and elsewhere in Trans-Euphrates: Greetings.
The letter you sent us has been read and translated in my presence.
I issued an order and a search was made, and it was found that this city has a long history of revolt against kings and has been a place of rebellion and sedition.
Jerusalem has had powerful kings ruling over the whole of Trans-Euphrates, and taxes, tribute and duty were paid to them.
Now issue an order to these men to stop work, so that this city will not be rebuilt until I so order.
Be careful not to neglect this matter. Why let this threat grow, to the detriment of the royal interests?
As soon as the copy of the letter of King Artaxerxes was read to Rehum and Shimshai the secretary and their associates, they went immediately to the Jews in Jerusalem and compelled them by force to stop.
Thus the work on the house of God in Jerusalem came to a standstill until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.
Now Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the prophet, a descendant of Iddo, prophesied to the Jews in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel, who was over them.
Then Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and Jeshua son of Jozadak set to work to rebuild the house of God in Jerusalem. And the prophets of God were with them, helping them.
At that time Tattenai, governor of Trans-Euphrates, and Shethar-Bozenai and their associates went to them and asked, "Who authorized you to rebuild this temple and restore this structure?"
They also asked, "What are the names of the men constructing this building?"
But the eye of their God was watching over the elders of the Jews, and they were not stopped until a report could go to Darius and his written reply be received.
This is a copy of the letter that Tattenai, governor of Trans-Euphrates, and Shethar-Bozenai and their associates, the officials of Trans-Euphrates, sent to King Darius.
The report they sent him read as follows: To King Darius: Cordial greetings.
The king should know that we went to the district of Judah, to the temple of the great God. The people are building it with large stones and placing the timbers in the walls. The work is being carried on with diligence and is making rapid progress under their direction.
We questioned the elders and asked them, "Who authorized you to rebuild this temple and restore this structure?"
We also asked them their names, so that we could write down the names of their leaders for your information.
This is the answer they gave us: "We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth, and we are rebuilding the temple that was built many years ago, one that a great king of Israel built and finished.
But because our fathers angered the God of heaven, he handed them over to Nebuchadnezzar the Chaldean, king of Babylon, who destroyed this temple and deported the people to Babylon.
"However, in the first year of Cyrus king of Babylon, King Cyrus issued a decree to rebuild this house of God.
He even removed from the temple of Babylon the gold and silver articles of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple in Jerusalem and brought to the temple in Babylon. "Then King Cyrus gave them to a man named Sheshbazzar, whom he had appointed governor,
and he told him, 'Take these articles and go and deposit them in the temple in Jerusalem. And rebuild the house of God on its site.'
So this Sheshbazzar came and laid the foundations of the house of God in Jerusalem. From that day to the present it has been under construction but is not yet finished."
Now if it pleases the king, let a search be made in the royal archives of Babylon to see if King Cyrus did in fact issue a decree to rebuild this house of God in Jerusalem. Then let the king send us his decision in this matter.