Ezra: Chapter 5-7

Ezra: Chapter 5-7

Ezra: Chapter 5-7                             December 7, 2019 

Work on Temple resumed through encouragement of Prophets

Now Rebuilding Begins Anew

Ezra 5:1 Then the prophet Haggai and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophets, prophesied to the Jews who were in Judah and Jerusalem, in the name of the God of Israel, who was over them.

The work on the temple had been stopped, from 535 to 520 B.C. Now under the influence of two important prophets, Haggai and Zechariah, it was resumed.

Last week we covered Haggai ministry that was to correct the returned exiles (Jews) for their delay in rebuilding the Temple and to encourage them to set to work.

Expressions such as “the word of the LORD came ” and “speaks the LORD of hosts” occurs 25 times in the two chapters of the prophecy.

Haggai prophesied from August to December 520 B.C., and Zechariah prophesied for two years beginning in October-November 520.

Both prophets placed the blame for the hard times the nation experienced during this period on the people’s lack of obedience in not rebuilding the temple.  (However, Ezra did not deal with that question in his book. He stressed the outside opposition which was also a factor in slowing the work.)

Ezra 5:2  So Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and Joshua the son of Jozadak rose up and began to build the house of God which is in Jerusalem; and the prophets of God were with them, helping them.

The building process itself was spearheaded by Zerubbabel and Jeshua,  prophets Haggai and Zechariah respectively, encouraging the people to work by their presence.  The work had stop for about fifteen years. 

Ezra 5:3  At the same time Tattenai the governor {502 B.C.} of the region beyond the River and Shethar-Boznai and their companions came to them and spoke thus to them: “Who has commanded you to build this temple and finish this wall?

But as soon as the work was resumed, another effort was made to stop it.  Israel’s leaders came into direct conflict with the duly established.  Only 20 regional governors in the Persian Empire.

Ezra 5:4 Then, accordingly, we told them the names of the men who were constructing this building. 

{Give the Names of only those working on the Temple, not leaders names}

Ezra 5:5  But the eye of their God was upon the elders of the Jews, so that they could not make them cease till a report could go to Darius. Then a written answer was returned concerning this matter.

But despite this challenge, the work did not stop because the eye of their God was protecting and watching over them who obeyed His command.

Jews Hater’s Letter: to King Darius

Ezra 5:6 This is a copy of the letter that Tattenai sent: The governor of the region beyond the River, and Shethar-Boznai, and his companions, the Persians who were in the region beyond the River, to Darius the king.

The governor who was under Persian custom and law, sent this letter to King Darius.


Ezra 5:7  (They sent a letter to him, in which was written thus) To Darius the king: All peace.

Ezra 5:8 Let it be known to the king that we went into the province of Judea, to the temple of the great God, which is being built with heavy stones, and timber is being laid in the walls; and this work goes on diligently and prospers in their hands.

Tattenai began his letter by noting that work was being done on the Temple of the great God in Jerusalem. Notice: The Temple walls, not the city walls.

Ezra 5:9  Then we asked those elders, and spoke thus to them: “Who commanded you to build this temple and to finish these walls?”

Ezra 5:10  We also asked them their names to inform you, that we might write the names of the men who were chief among them.

Wanted names of who was responsible and names of the people working

Ezra 5:11 And thus they returned us an answer, saying: “We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth, and we are rebuilding the temple that was built many years ago, which a great king of Israel built and completed. 

{Learn about Jews History and destiny, Great King, is Solomon}

Ezra 5:12 But because our fathers provoked the God of heaven to wrath, He gave them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, the Chaldean, who destroyed this temple and carried the people away to Babylon.  {they acknowledgment the reality and sovereignty of God}

Ezra 5:13 However, in the first year of Cyrus king of Babylon, King Cyrus issued a decree to build this house of God.

Ezra 5:14 Also, the gold and silver articles of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple that was in Jerusalem and carried into the temple of Babylon–those King Cyrus took from the temple of Babylon, and they were given to one named Sheshbazzar, whom he had made governor.    { another name for Zerubbabel}

Ezra 5:15  And he said to him, ‘Take these articles; go, carry them to the temple site that is in Jerusalem, and let the house of God be rebuilt on its former site.’

Ezra 5:16  Then the same Sheshbazzar came and laid the foundation of the house of God which is in Jerusalem; but from that time even until now it has been under construction, and it is not finished.”

Ezra 5:17 Now therefore, if it seems good to the king, let a search be made in the king’s treasure house, which is there in Babylon, whether it is so that a decree was issued by King Cyrus to build this house of God at Jerusalem, and let the king send us his pleasure concerning this matter.

The Kings treasure house contained the official records and treasury??

End of Letter

Darius confirm the decree of Cyrus

Ezra 6:1 Then King Darius issued a decree, and a search was made in the archives, where the treasures were stored in Babylon.  {nothing found here}

Ezra 6:2  And at Achmetha, in the palace that is in the province of Media, a scroll was found, and in it a record was written thus:  {Summer Residence}

The scroll said:  King Darius reply by quoting the decree of King Cyrus

Ezra 6:3 In the first year of King Cyrus, King Cyrus issued a decree concerning the house of God at Jerusalem: “Let the house be rebuilt, the place where they offered sacrifices; and let the foundations of it be firmly laid, its height sixty cubits and its width sixty cubits, 

The porch of Solomon’s Temple was twice this height (2 Chr 3:4) 

Ezra 6:4 with three rows of heavy stones and one row of new timber. Let the expenses be paid from the king’s treasury.

Describes the construction of the wall of the inner court. 

Ezra 6:5 Also let the gold and silver articles of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took from the temple which is in Jerusalem and brought to Babylon, be restored and taken back to the temple which is in Jerusalem, each to its place; and deposit them in the house of God”

Decree of King Cyrus was found in Ezra 1:2-4

This Temple was half the size of Solomon’s Temple

1)     The temple was to be 90 feet high and 90 feet wide, with three courses of large stones and one of timbers (cf. 5:8; 1 Kgs 6:36).

2)     The project was to be financed by funds from the royal treasury. This shows the earnestness of Cyrus’ repatriation program.

3)     The returned gold and silver articles were to be put in their places in the temple.

King Darius then gave a warning and strong instructions to Tattenai and his associates:  King concluded the Jewish people were doing was legal and the government should stop opposing them and let the construction continue. 

Ezra 6:6 Now therefore, Tattenai, governor of the region beyond the River, and Shethar-Boznai, and your companions the Persians who are beyond the River, keep yourselves far from there.

Cyrus told them to leave the Jews alone and not interfere with the building of the temple

Ezra 6:7 Let the work of this house of God alone; let the governor of the Jews and the elders of the Jews build this house of God on its site.

Ezra 6:8 Moreover I issue a decree as to what you shall do for the elders of these Jews, for the building of this house of God: Let the cost be paid at the king’s expense from taxes on the region beyond the River; this is to be given immediately to these men, so that they are not hindered.

Tax money was to be used to help finance the project and animals were to be supplied daily so that sacrifices could be made at the altar of the new temple along with food items for the offerings.

Ezra 6:9 And whatever they need–young bulls, rams, and lambs for the burnt offerings of the God of heaven, wheat, salt, wine, and oil, according to the request of the priests who are in Jerusalem–let it be given them day by day without fail,

Ezra 6:10 that they may offer sacrifices of sweet aroma to the God of heaven, and pray for the life of the king and his sons.

The order to not stop reconstruction of the Temple, he also had to fund its completion.  If they do not, this is what will happen to them.

Ezra 6:11 Also I issue a decree that whoever alters this edict, let a timber be pulled from his house and erected, and let him be hanged on it; and let his house be made a refuse heap because of this.

Going through Esther, therefore this was no idle threat!

Ezra 6:12 And may the God who causes His name to dwell there destroy any king or people who put their hand to alter it, or to destroy this house of God which is in Jerusalem. I Darius issue a decree; let it be done diligently.

Anyone who disobeyed the edict was to suffer a horrible fate, death, impaling, just as Haman was.

So Tattenai’s inquiry backfired. Instead of stopping the temple work, he had to let it proceed and even had to help pay for it out of his revenues!

Darius’ curse on anyone who would destroy the temple was fulfilled in:

  1. a) Antiochus Epiphanes, who desecrated it in 167 B.C., and died insane three years later;
  2. b) Herod the Great (37-4 B.C.), who added extensively to the temple to glorify himself, and who had domestic trouble and died of disease; and
  3. c) the Romans, who destroyed the temple in A.D. 70, and later had their empire destroyed.

Temple completed and Dedicated

Ezra 6:13 Then Tattenai, governor of the region beyond the River, Shethar-Boznai, and their companions diligently did according to what King Darius had sent.  {no indication the Jews was mistreated in any way}

Ezra 6:14 So the elders of the Jews built, and they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. And they built and finished it, according to the commandment of the God of Israel, and according to the command of Cyrus, Darius, and Artaxerxes king of Persia.

The work was done by the Jewish elders who were encouraged by the preaching of the Prophets Haggai and Zechariah (cf. 5:1).

Ezra 6:15 Now the temple was finished on the third day of the month of Adar, which was in the sixth year of the reign of King Darius.  {515 b.c.}

The temple was completed in Adar (February-March) of 515: 21 years after the work started in 536, and 4 1/2 years after Haggai began his prophesying. This was 70 years after the temple had been destroyed on August 12, 586.

Ezra 6:16 Then the children of Israel, the priests and the Levites and the rest of the descendants of the captivity, celebrated the dedication of this house of God with joy.

Ezra 6:17  And they offered sacrifices at the dedication of this house of God, one hundred bulls, two hundred rams, four hundred lambs, and as a sin offering for all Israel twelve male goats, according to the number of the tribes of Israel.

After the temple was finished, it was then dedicated. The comparatively small number of animals sacrificed, contrasted sharply with the tremendous amount sacrificed by Solomon at the dedication of the first temple, This points up how poor the people were, also more wealthy people before. 

Ezra 6:18 They assigned the priests to their divisions and the Levites to their divisions, over the service of God in Jerusalem, as it is written in the Book of Moses.

Passover restored and Celebrated 

The Law laid down the duties of the Priests and Levites {Num. 18}. Later the divisions of priests and Levites were instituted by David. {1 Chronicles 23} 

Ezra 6:19  And the descendants of the captivity kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the first month.

This was the first time in 70 years that the people partook of the Passover with sacrifices offered in the Temple.

Ezra 6:20 For the priests and the Levites had purified themselves; all of them were ritually clean. And they slaughtered the Passover lambs for all the descendants of the captivity, for their brethren the priests, and for themselves.

Ezra 6:21 Then the children of Israel who had returned from the captivity ate together with all who had separated themselves from the filth of the nations of the land in order to seek the LORD God of Israel.

Think there was a problem of those who return and those in the land.  Called filth of the nations: Idolatry practices and intermarriages with others.

Ezra 6:22 And they kept the Feast of Unleavened Bread seven days with joy; for the LORD made them joyful, and turned the heart of the king of Assyria {Darius} toward them, to strengthen their hands in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel.

During this period, the events of the Book of Esther took place.  Artaxerxes was step son of Queen Esther,

Ezra, a priest who knew the Scriptures, knew the importance of having the people back where the sacrificial system was being practiced.

The events which transpire in this section of the narrative occurred during the reign of Artaxerxes who was introduced earlier in the book (4:8-23; 6:14). The return occurred in the king’s seventh year, which was 458 B.C.

Around 58 years elapsed between Chapter 6 and 7; during this period the events in Esther took place. 

Ezra Sent to Teach the People and about Ezra Ministry 

Ezra’s journey from Babylon to Jerusalem; his ancestry and companions, 457 BC

Ezra 7:1  Now after these things, in the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, Ezra the son of Seraiah, the son of Azariah, the son of Hilkiah,

“Now after these things”: Between chapters 6 and 7, 58 years intervene, during which time the events of the Book of Esther occurred.  This might explain Artaxerxes’ favorable attitude toward Ezra. Ezra the son of Seraiah.

Ezra 7:2-5 the son of Shallum, the son of Zadok, the son of Ahitub, (3) the son of Amariah, the son of Azariah, the son of Meraioth, (4) the son of Zerahiah, the son of Uzzi, the son of Bukki, (5) the son of Abishua, the son of Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the chief priest–

Ezra, direct lineage to Aaron, God’s chief priest.  Can be High Priest.  This list is abbreviated, for it does not name every generation. 

Ezra 7:6-7 this Ezra came up from Babylon; and he was a skilled scribe in the Law of Moses, which the LORD God of Israel had given. The king granted him all his request, according to the hand of the LORD his God upon him. (7) Some of the children of Israel, the priests, the Levites, the singers, the gatekeepers, and the Nethinim came up to Jerusalem in the seventh year of King Artaxerxes.

Ezra was a teacher well-versed in the Law of Moses and a skilled scribe.

Ezra had the blessing of the pagan King Artaxerxes as well as the blessing of the covenant God of Israel and God’s grace working on Ezra’s behalf

A few years later Nehemiah had an official position before the king (Neh 1:11), but Ezra held no such position. Because of the king’s favor Ezra was promised that he could have whatever he wanted.

Rather than ask for something personal, Ezra used the monarch’s favor to advance the cause of God and His people.

Ezra 7:8-9 And Ezra came to Jerusalem in the fifth month, which was in the seventh year of the king. (9) On the first day of the first month he began his journey from Babylon, and on the first day of the fifth month he came to Jerusalem, according to the good hand of his God upon him.

The trip back to the land took exactly four months.  The route traveled by Ezra was dangerous because a rebellion had broken out in Egypt and spring was the time when ancient armies began their campaigns.

Ezra 7:10 For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the Law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel.

Notice, Ezra was inwardly determined toward doing three things: studying God’s Law, obeying it, and teaching it to others – in order for a successful ministry

Because of this, the gracious good hand of God empowered him

Decree of Artaxerxes on Ezra’s behalf 

Ezra 7:11 This is a copy of the letter that King Artaxerxes gave Ezra the priest, the scribe, expert in the words of the commandments of the LORD, and of His statutes to Israel:       {Teacher of scribes}

Artaxerxes wrote a letter in Aramaic to Ezra, giving him permission to take Jewish volunteers, silver and gold, and temple vessels back to Jerusalem. Also, he made ample provision for temple supplies and ministers, and gave Ezra authority to appoint magistrates and judges.

Letter starts 

Ezra 7:12 Artaxerxes, king of kings, To Ezra the priest, a scribe of the Law of the God of heaven: Perfect peace, and so forth.

Perfect peace describes a treaty relationship between the Persian emperor and the vassal state of Israel

Ezra 7:13 I issue a decree that all those of the people of Israel and the priests and Levites in my realm, who volunteer to go up to Jerusalem, may go with you.

Artaxerxes listed certain freedoms the people were to have as they journeyed to and lived in Israel. He gave them permission to go to Jerusalem.   Details are now given in the letter.

Ezra 7:14 And whereas you are being sent by the king and his seven counselors to inquire concerning Judah and Jerusalem, with regard to the Law of your God which is in your hand;

Ezra 7:15 and whereas you are to carry the silver and gold which the king and his counselors have freely offered to the God of Israel, whose dwelling is in Jerusalem;

Ezra 7:16 and whereas all the silver and gold that you may find in all the province of Babylon, along with the freewill offering of the people and the priests, are to be freely offered for the house of their God in Jerusalem

3 sources of offering of silver and gold to take with them and he allowed them to get more in Babylon (vv. 15-16, 20).

Ezra 7:17 now therefore, be careful to buy with this money bulls, rams, and lambs, with their grain offerings and their drink offerings, and offer them on the altar of the house of your God in Jerusalem.

He said that they could offer sacrifices on the altar at the temple.

Ezra 7:18 And whatever seems good to you and your brethren to do with the rest of the silver and the gold, do it according to the will of your God.

They were also given freedom to make their own decisions. 

Ezra 7:19 Also the articles that are given to you for the service of the house of your God, deliver in full before the God of Jerusalem.

Ezra 7:20 And whatever more may be needed for the house of your God, which you may have occasion to provide, pay for it from the king’s treasury.

Ezra had what amounted to a royal blank check, however there were a limits on the supplies.

Ezra 7:21 And I, even I, Artaxerxes the king, issue a decree to all the treasurers who are in the region beyond the River, that whatever Ezra the priest, the scribe of the Law of the God of heaven, may require of you, let it be done diligently,

Ezra 7:22 up to one hundred talents of silver, one hundred kors of wheat, one hundred baths of wine, one hundred baths of oil, and salt without prescribed limit.

They could have whatever else they needed for the temple up to a certain limit. The wheat, oil, and salt were for use in the grain offerings (cf. 6:9; Lev 2

Ezra 7:23 Whatever is commanded by the God of heaven, let it diligently be done for the house of the God of heaven. For why should there be wrath against the realm of the king and his sons

Sons:  Esther is a grandmother?

Ezra 7:24 Also we inform you that it shall not be lawful to impose tax, tribute, or custom on any of the priests, Levites, singers, gatekeepers, Nethinim, or servants of this house of God.

The priests and Levites were not to be taxed, they were exempt from every form of tax.

Ezra 7:25 And you, Ezra, according to your God-given wisdom, set magistrates and judges who may judge all the people who are in the region beyond the River, all such as know the laws of your God; and teach those who do not know them.

Uninstructed Jews were to be taught the Scriptures

Ezra 7:26 Whoever will not observe the law of your God and the law of the king, let judgment be executed speedily on him, whether it be death, or banishment, or confiscation of goods, or imprisonment.

Remember this when we get to the last chapter.

In return for granting these privileges the king was to receive some benefits from the expedition. He wanted to avoid uprisings or feelings of anger against him (v. 23) and to have order in that part of his empire

Ezra was responsible to administer justice to all the people of the area, that is, to all who knew the laws of his God—the Jewish people.  Ezra also was to administer the judicial system by handing out punishment to any who would not obey

Ezra’s Thanksgiving

Ezra 7:27 Blessed be the LORD God of our fathers, who has put such a thing as this in the king’s heart, to beautify the house of the LORD which is in Jerusalem,

Ezra’s response to the king’s decree shows what kind of man he was.  He praised the LORD for what was being done under him. 

Ezra 7:28 and has extended mercy to me before the king and his counselors, and before all the king’s mighty princes. So I was encouraged, as the hand of the LORD my God was upon me; and I gathered leading men of Israel to go up with me.

Ezra also said that God’s mercy was shown to him in front of all the king’s pagan advisers and officials.

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