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Ezra 6

EZRA CHAPTER  6

The Decree of Darius for the Temple to be Rebuilt

 1 King Darius then issued an order, and they searched in the archives stored in the treasury at Babylon.

 2 A scroll was found in the citadel of Ecbatana in the province of Media, and this was written on it:
      Memorandum:

 3 In the first year of King Cyrus, the king issued a decree concerning the temple of God in Jerusalem:
       Let the temple be rebuilt as a place to present sacrifices, and let its foundations be laid. It is to be ninety feet  high and ninety feet wide,

4 with three courses of large stones and one of timbers. The costs are to be paid by the royal treasury.

5 Also, the gold and silver articles of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took from the temple in Jerusalem and brought to Babylon, are to be returned to their places in the temple in Jerusalem; they are to be deposited in the house of God.

 6 Now then, Tattenai, governor of Trans-Euphrates, and Shethar-Bozenai and you, their fellow officials of that province, stay away from there.

7 Do not interfere with the work on this temple of God. Let the governor of the Jews and the Jewish elders rebuild this house of God on its site.

 8 Moreover, I hereby decree what you are to do for these elders of the Jews in the construction of this house of God:
       The expenses of these men are to be fully paid out of the royal treasury, from the revenues of Trans-Euphrates, so that the work will not stop.

 9 Whatever is needed—young bulls, rams, male lambs for burnt offerings to the God of heaven, and wheat, salt, wine and oil, as requested by the priests in Jerusalem—must be given them daily without fail,

10 so that they may offer sacrifices pleasing to the God of heaven and pray for the well-being of the king and his sons.

 11 Furthermore, I decree that if anyone changes this edict, a beam is to be pulled from his house and he is to be lifted up and impaled on it. And for this crime his house is to be made a pile of rubble.

12 May God, who has caused his Name to dwell there, overthrow any king or people who lifts a hand to change this decree or to destroy this temple in Jerusalem.
       I Darius have decreed it. Let it be carried out with diligence.

Completion and Dedication of the Temple

13 Then, because of the decree King Darius had sent, Tattenai, governor of Trans-Euphrates, and Shethar-Bozenai and their associates carried it out with diligence.

14 So the elders of the Jews continued to build and prosper under the preaching of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah, a descendant of Iddo. They finished building the temple according to the command of the God of Israel and the decrees of Cyrus, Darius and Artaxerxes, kings of Persia.

15 The temple was completed on the third day of the month Adar, in the sixth year of the reign of King Darius.

 16 Then the people of Israel—the priests, the Levites and the rest of the exiles—celebrated the dedication of the house of God with joy.

17 For the dedication of this house of God they offered a hundred bulls, two hundred rams, four hundred male lambs and, as a sin offering for all Israel, twelve male goats, one for each of the tribes of Israel.

18 And they installed the priests in their divisions and the Levites in their groups for the service of God at Jerusalem, according to what is written in the Book of Moses.

The Passover

19 On the fourteenth day of the first month, the exiles celebrated the Passover.

20 The priests and Levites had purified themselves and were all ceremonially clean. The Levites slaughtered the Passover lamb for all the exiles, for their brothers the priests and for themselves.

21 So the Israelites who had returned from the exile ate it, together with all who had separated themselves from the unclean practices of their Gentile neighbors in order to seek the LORD, the God of Israel.

 22 For seven days they celebrated with joy the Feast of Unleavened Bread, because the LORD had filled them with joy by changing the attitude of the king of Assyria, so that he assisted them in the work on the house of God, the God of Israel.

INTRODUCTION TO EZRA 6

At Ecbatana in the fortress a copy of the original decree was found in the archives.  All the specs were in the original decree including height and width.  It was to be built on the original site and the royal treasury of Persia was to pay all expenses and the museum pieces were to be returned.  So, Darius sent the following official letter to Tattenai:  Stay away—Do not disturb—keep your mouth shut—allow the work to proceed.  You must pay all construction costs from taxes collected in your province, supply all sacrifices plus wheat, salt, wine, and olive oil fro daily needs.  Any violations of my decree will result in beatings, and confiscation of property.  Darius issued the decree and it must be obeyed with all diligence.  This commentary will illuminate the text and move you to be an Ezra to someone.

EXPOSITION OF EZRA 6

The Decree of Darius

1 King Darius then issued an order, and they searched in the archives stored in the treasury at Babylon.

Orders from the king to pull the files on the supposed decree were in the works.   This decree would have been rolled up on parchment and sealed with the king’s seal and placed in an elongated clay cylinder and sealed with a label on the end of the cylinder and filed on a shelf for future reference.  Search is under way in the city of Babylon.

2 A scroll was found in the citadel of Ecbatana in the province of Media, and this was written on it:

The search moves from Babylon to Ecbatana in Persia which was the summer palace of the king.  It appears that the only people aware of such a decree were the Jews.  Discovery of this document was a fly in the buttermilk of Tattenai.

3 In the first year of King Cyrus, the king issued a decree concerning the temple of God in Jerusalem:
       Let the temple be rebuilt as a place to present sacrifices, and let its foundations be laid. It is to be ninety feet high and ninety feet wide,

The king replies by citing the original decree of his predecessor

4 with three courses of large stones and one of timbers. The costs are to be paid by the royal treasury.

Authorization for the cost of the construction was to be paid by the royal treasury

5 Also, the gold and silver articles of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took from the temple in Jerusalem and brought to Babylon, are to be returned to their places in the temple in Jerusalem; they are to be deposited in the house of God.

This is an exact quote from the original decree.  Cyrus’s public proclamation can be found in chapter 1:2-4.  The 3 rows of stones and the timber that Tattenai saw at Jerusalem are the ones named in the decree.  Cyrus realizes that his regional Governor Tattenai is filled with envy and a lust for power.  No Persian decree can be ignored altered or rescinded.

Esther 1:19  “Therefore, if it pleases the king, let him issue a royal decree and let it be written in the laws of Persia and Media, which cannot be repealed, that Vashti is never again to enter the presence of King Xerxes. Also let the king give her royal position to someone else who is better than she.

The Persians were as infallible as the Popes.

6 Now then, Tattenai, governor of Trans-Euphrates, and Shethar-Bozenai and you, their fellow officials of that province, stay away from there.

Up to this point the king has been quoting from the previous decree but now he makes his own decree that they are to stay away from there and not hinder the work.

7 Do not interfere with the work on this temple of God. Let the governor of the Jews and the Jewish elders rebuild this house of God on its site.

The King is hot under the collar for he realizes that the Jews are legal in rebuilding the temple so he issues a decree of his own ordering the regional government to stop opposing them.  The king has some strong words for Tattenai he tells them not to interfere and to aid them in their work.

8 Moreover, I hereby decree what you are to do for these elders of the Jews in the construction of this house of God:

When this order reaches Tattenai and his cohorts they will be as overworked as a circus sweeper when the elephants have a digestive problem.  They must supply the Jews all the necessary material and pay all cost for the product from taxes collected by Tattenai for the King.  He not only can’t stop the project but must fund it. The expenses of these men are to be fully paid out of the royal treasury, from the revenues of Trans-Euphrates, so that the work will not stop.

9 Whatever is needed—young bulls, rams, male lambs for burnt offerings to the God of heaven, and wheat, salt, wine and oil, as requested by the priests in Jerusalem—must be given them daily without fail,

Judah’s jealous enemies are as shocked at the reply as a sheik with a dry oil well.  Now they must supply even the sacrifices.  Tattenai must have been infuriated at furnishing sacrifices day by day.

10 so that they may offer sacrifices pleasing to the God of heaven and pray for the well-being of the king and his sons.

The king further issues a decree that they pray for the life of the king and his sons.  Tattenai must by now be bristling with rage.  He is probably as steaming as a pressure cooker.

11 Furthermore, I decree that if anyone changes this edict, a beam is to be pulled from his house and he is to be lifted up and impaled on it. And for this crime his house is to be made a pile of rubble.

The king issues a warning to anyone who would alter his word in this matter.  Any disobedience would be a capital crime and would carry a death penalty.  He would be sent blindfolded to the gallows and his property confiscated and his house turned into a public restroom.

12 May God, who has caused his Name to dwell there, overthrow any king or people who lifts a hand to change this decree or to destroy this temple in Jerusalem.
       I Darius have decreed it. Let it be carried out with diligence.

The king further places a curse upon anyone who would alter or destroy the house of God that bore the name of God.  He mandates that this order be carried out without haste.  Any delay would be considered rebellion and would meet with stern measures.

Completion and Dedication of the Temple

13 Then, because of the decree King Darius had sent, Tattenai, governor of Trans-Euphrates, and Shethar-Bozenai and their associates carried it out with diligence.

Tattenai and his group of wind bags will now turn into a hand of hope.  These enemies are as finished as a polished parquet floor.

14 So the elders of the Jews continued to build and prosper under the preaching of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah, a descendant of Iddo. They finished building the temple according to the command of the God of Israel and the decrees of Cyrus, Darius and Artaxerxes, kings of Persia.

The elders went after the project like a meat cutter with a meat cleaver. The Prophets Haggai and Zechariah are the cheer leaders.  Three kings are associated with this work.  Cyrus, Darius and Artaxerxes all are kings of Persia.  This is not a complete list of the Persian kings but the temple is started and completed under the commandment of these three kings.

15 The temple was completed on the third day of the month Adar, in the sixth year of the reign of King Darius.

Early spring in the year of BC 515 the temple is completed.

16 Then the people of Israel—the priests, the Levites and the rest of the exiles—celebrated the dedication of the house of God with joy.

Psalm 147

1 Praise the LORD. 
       How good it is to sing praises to our God,
       how pleasant and fitting to praise him!

2 The LORD builds up Jerusalem;
       he gathers the exiles of Israel.

3 He heals the brokenhearted
       and binds up their wounds.

4 He determines the number of the stars
       and calls them each by name.

5 Great is our Lord and mighty in power;
       his understanding has no limit.

6 The LORD sustains the humble
       but casts the wicked to the ground.

7 Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving;
       make music to our God on the harp.

8 He covers the sky with clouds;
       he supplies the earth with rain
       and makes grass grow on the hills.

9 He provides food for the cattle
       and for the young ravens when they call.

10 His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse,
       nor his delight in the legs of a man;

11 the LORD delights in those who fear him,
       who put their hope in his unfailing love.

12 Extol the LORD, O Jerusalem;
       praise your God, O Zion,

13 for he strengthens the bars of your gates
       and blesses your people within you.

14 He grants peace to your borders
       and satisfies you with the finest of wheat.

15 He sends his command to the earth;
       his word runs swiftly.

16 He spreads the snow like wool
       and scatters the frost like ashes.

17 He hurls down his hail like pebbles.
       Who can withstand his icy blast?

18 He sends his word and melts them;
       he stirs up his breezes, and the waters flow.

19 He has revealed his word to Jacob,
       his laws and decrees to Israel.

20 He has done this for no other nation;
       they do not know his laws.
       Praise the LORD.

 

17 For the dedication of this house of God they offered a hundred bulls, two hundred rams, four hundred male lambs and, as a sin offering for all Israel, twelve male goats, one for each of the trib1es of Israel.

Like the dedication of Solomon’s temple sacrifices was offered for all 12 tribes.

18 And they installed the priests in their divisions and the Levites in their groups for the service of God at Jerusalem, according to what is written in the Book of Moses.

The duties of priests are found in Num18 while the divisions occurred under David.

The Passover

19 On the fourteenth day of the first month, the exiles celebrated the Passover.

What a celebration—the temple is completed—priests are sanctified—Sacrifices are offered and now it is time for a seven day Passover observance with trumpets and fanfare, singing and festivity.  It was a renown and time honored occasion.

20 The priests and Levites had purified themselves and were all ceremonially clean. The Levites slaughtered the Passover lamb for all the exiles, for their brothers the priests and for themselves.

The priests and their assistants the Levites kill the Passover lamb not only for themselves but for all present.

21 So the Israelites who had returned from the exile ate it, together with all who had separated themselves from the unclean practices of their Gentile neighbors in order to seek the LORD, the God of Israel.

The foreign people among them ceased their heathen practices and are seeking the God of Israel.  They too are partaking of the sacrifice.

22 For seven days they celebrated with joy the Feast of Unleavened Bread, because the LORD had filled them with joy by changing the attitude of the king of Assyria, so that he assisted them in the work on the house of God, the God of Israel.

Cyrus is here called the king of Assyria because that was the former name of the area over which Cyrus is now ruling.

 

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