Ezra 5

1 But when the prophets Haggai and Zechariah son of Iddo prophesied to the Jews who were in Judah and Jerusalem, in the name of the God of Israel who was over them,
2 Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and Jeshua son of Jozadak began to rebuild God's house in Jerusalem. The prophets of God were with them, helping them.
3 At that time Tattenai the governor of the region west of the Euphrates River, Shethar-bozenai, and their colleagues came to the Jews and asked, "Who gave you the order to rebuild this temple and finish this structure?"[a]
4 They also asked them, "What are the names of the workers[b] who are constructing this building?"
5 But God was watching[c] over the Jewish elders. These men wouldn't stop them until a report was sent to Darius, so that they could receive written instructions about this [matter].

The Letter to Darius

6 This is the text of the letter that Tattenai the governor of the region west of the Euphrates River, Shethar-bozenai, and their colleagues, the officials in the region, sent to King Darius.
7 They sent him a report, written as follows: To King Darius: All greetings.
8 Let it be known to the king that we went to the house of the great God in the province of Judah. It is being built with cut[d] stones, and its beams are being set in the walls. This work is being done diligently and succeeding through the people's efforts.
9 So we questioned the elders and asked, "Who gave you the order to rebuild this temple and finish this structure?"[e]
10 We also asked them for their names, so that we could write down the names of their leaders for your information.
11 This is the reply they gave us: We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth and are rebuilding the temple that was built many years ago, which a great king of Israel built and finished.
12 But since our fathers angered the God of heaven, He handed them over to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, the Chaldean, who destroyed this temple and deported the people to Babylon.
13 However, in the first year of Cyrus king of Babylon, he issued a decree to rebuild this house of God.
14 He also took from the temple in Babylon the gold and silver articles of God's house that Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple in Jerusalem and carried [them] to the temple in Babylon. He released them from the temple in Babylon to a man named Sheshbazzar, the governor by the appointment of King Cyrus.
15 He told him, 'Take these articles, put them in the temple in Jerusalem, and let the house of God be rebuilt on its [original] site.'
16 Then this same Sheshbazzar came and laid the foundation of God's house in Jerusalem. It has been under construction from that time until now, yet it has not been completed.
17 So if it pleases the king, let a search of the royal archives[f] in Babylon be conducted [to see] if it is true that a decree was issued by King Cyrus to rebuild this house of God in Jerusalem. Let the king's decision regarding [this matter] be sent to us.

Ezra 5 Commentary

Chapter 5

The leaders forward the building of the temple. (1,2) letter against the Jews. (3-17)

Verses 1-2 The building of the temple was stopped about fifteen years. Then they had two good ministers, who urged them to go on with the work. It is a sign that God has mercy in store for a people, when he raises up prophets to be helpers in the way and work of God, as guides, overseers, and rulers. In Haggai, we see what great things God does by his word, which he magnifies above all his name, and by his Spirit working with it.

Verses 3-17 While employed in God's work, we are under his special protection; his eye is upon us for good. This should keep us to our duty, and encourage us therein, when difficulties are ever so discouraging. The elders of the Jews gave the Samaritans an account of their proceedings. Let us learn hence, with meekness and fear, to give a reason of the hope that is in us; let us rightly understand, and then readily declare, what we do in God's service, and why we do it. And while in this world, we always shall have to confess, that our sins have provoked the wrath of God. All our sufferings spring from thence, and all our comforts from his unmerited mercy. However the work may seem to be hindered, yet the Lord Jesus Christ is carrying it on, his people are growing unto a holy temple in the Lord, for a habitation of God through the Spirit.

Footnotes 6

  • [a]. Or finish its furnishings
  • [b]. One Aram ms, LXX, Syr; MT reads Then we told them exactly what the names of the men were
  • [c]. Lit But the eye of their God was
  • [d]. Or huge
  • [e]. Or finish its furnishings
  • [f]. Lit treasure house

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO EZRA 5

This chapter relates, how that the people of the Jews were stirred up by the prophecies of Haggai and Zechariah to set about the building of the temple again, notwithstanding the orders to the contrary from the deputy governors of the king of Persia; nor could the present ones cause them to cease from it; though it must be owned they behaved towards them in a better manner than the former ones did, Ezr 5:1-5, and who, upon the answers received from the Jews, wrote a letter to Darius, to know the truth of things; and in which they seem to state fairly the case of the Jews, as they had it from them, so far as they understood it, Ezr 5:6-17.

\\son of Iddo\\ The grandson of Iddo; for he was the son of Berechiah, Zec 1:1,

\\prophesied unto the Jews that were in Judah and Jerusalem, in the name\\ \\of the God of Israel\\; this they both did in the second year of Darius; the one began in the sixth month, and the other in the eighth month of the year, Hag 1:1, Zec 1:1, even "unto them"; or "against them", as De Dieu; reproving them for their sloth and neglect of building the temple, when they were careful enough to raise up goodly houses for themselves to dwell in; and for being intimidated by the command of the king of Persia, which only forbid the building of the city, that is, the walls of it, but not the temple any more than their own houses; and besides, there was now a new king, from whom they had not so much to fear. 20094-950306-0810-Ezr5.2

Ezra 5 Commentaries