Ezra 3; Ezra 4; Ezra 5

1 By the seventh month, the Israelites had settled in their towns, and the people gathered together in Jerusalem. 2 Jeshua son of Jozadak and his brothers the priests along with Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and his brothers began to build the altar of Israel's God in order to offer burnt offerings on it, as it is written in the law of Moses the man of God. 3 They set up the altar on its foundation and offered burnt offerings for the morning and evening on it to the Lord even though they feared the surrounding peoples. 4 They celebrated the Festival of Booths as prescribed, and [offered] burnt offerings each day, based on the number specified by ordinance for each festival day. 5 After that, [they offered] the regular burnt offering and the offerings for the beginning of each monthand for all the Lord's appointed holy occasions, as well as the freewill offerings brought to the Lord. 6 On the first day of the seventh month they began to offer burnt offerings to the Lord, even though the foundation of the Lord's temple had not [yet] been laid. 7 They gave money to the stonecutters and artisans, and [gave] food, drink, and oil to the people of Sidon and Tyre, so they could bring cedar wood from Lebanon to Joppa by sea, according to the authorization [given] them by King Cyrus of Persia. 8 In the second month of the second year after they arrived at God's house in Jerusalem, Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, Jeshua son of Jozadak, and the rest of their brothers, including the priests, the Levites, and all who had returned to Jerusalem from the captivity, began [to build]. They appointed the Levites who were 20 years old or more to supervise the work on the Lord's house. 9 Jeshua with his sons and brothers, Kadmiel with his sons, and the sons of Judah and of Henadad, with their sons and brothers, the Levites, joined together to supervise those working on the house of God. 10 When the builders had laid the foundation of the Lord's temple, the priests, dressed in their robes and holding trumpets, and the Levites descended from Asaph, holding cymbals, took their positions to praise the Lord, as King David of Israel had instructed. 11 They sang with praise and thanksgiving to the Lord: "For He is good; His faithful love to Israel endures forever." Then all the people gave a great shout of praise to the Lord because the foundation of the Lord's house had been laid. 12 But many of the older priests, Levites, and family leaders, who had seen the first temple, wept loudly when they saw the foundation of this house, but many [others] shouted joyfully. 13 The people could not distinguish the sound of the joyful shouting from that of the weeping, because the people were shouting so loudly. And the sound was heard far away.
1 When the enemies of Judah and Benjamin heard that the returned exiles were building a temple for the Lord, the God of Israel, 2 they approached Zerubbabel and the leaders of the families and said to them, "Let us build with you, for we also worship your God and have been sacrificing to Him since the time King Esar-haddon of Assyria; 2 Kg 19:37 ; Isa 37:38 brought us here." 3 But Zerubbabel, Jeshua, and the other leaders of Israel's families answered them, "You may have no part with us in building a house for our God, since we alone must build [it] for the Lord, the God of Israel, as King Cyrus, the king of Persia has commanded us." 4 Then the people who were already in the land discouraged the people of Judah and made them afraid to build. 5 They also bribed officials [to act] against them to frustrate their plans throughout the reign of King Cyrus of Persia and until the reign of King Darius of Persia. 6 At the beginning of the reign of Ahasuerus, the people who were already in the land wrote an accusation against the residents of Judah and Jerusalem. 7 During the time of [King] Artaxerxes of Persia, Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel and the rest of his colleagues wrote to King Artaxerxes. The letter was written in Aramaic and translated. 8 Rehum the chief deputy and Shimshai the scribe wrote a letter to King Artaxerxes concerning Jerusalem as follows: 9 [From] Rehum the chief deputy, Shimshai the scribe, and the rest of their colleagues-the judges and magistrates from Tripolis, Persia, Erech, Babylon, Susa (that is, the people of Elam), 10 and the rest of the peoples whom the great and illustrious Ashurbanipal deported and settled in the cities of Samaria and the region west of the Euphrates River. 11 This is the text of the letter they sent to him: To King Artaxerxes from your servants, the men from the region west of the Euphrates River: 12 Let it be known to the king that the Jews who came from you have returned to us at Jerusalem. They are rebuilding that rebellious and evil city, finishing its walls, and repairing its foundations. 13 Let it now be known to the king that if that city is rebuilt and its walls are finished, they will not pay tribute, duty, or land tax, and the royal revenue will suffer. 14 Since we have taken an oath of loyalty to the king, and it is not right for us to witness his dishonor, we have sent to inform the king 15 that a search should be made in your fathers' record books. In these record books you will discover and verify that the city is a rebellious city, harmful to kings and provinces. There have been revolts in it since ancient times. That is why this city was destroyed. 16 We advise the king that if this city is rebuilt and its walls are finished, you will not have any possession west of the Euphrates. 17 The king sent a reply to his chief deputy Rehum, Shimshai the scribe, and the rest of their colleagues living in Samaria and elsewhere in the region west of the Euphrates River: Greetings. 18 The letter you sent us has been translated and read in my presence. 19 I issued a decree and a search was conducted. It was discovered that this city has had uprisings against kings since ancient times, and there have been rebellions and revolts in it. 20 Powerful kings have also ruled over Jerusalem and exercised authority over the whole region, and tribute, duty, and land tax were paid to them. 21 Therefore, issue an order for these men to stop, so that this city will not be rebuilt until a [further] decree has been pronounced by me. 22 See that you not neglect this matter. Otherwise, the damage will increase and the royal interests will suffer. 23 As soon as the text of King Artaxerxes' letter was read to Rehum, Shimshai the scribe, and their colleagues, they immediately went to the Jews in Jerusalem and forcibly stopped them. 24 Now the construction of God's house in Jerusalem had stopped and remained at a standstill until the second year of the reign of King Darius of Persia.
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?" 4 They also asked them, "What are the names of the workers who are constructing this building?" 5 But God was watching 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]. 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 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?" 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 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.
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