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Ezra 5-7

Supplemental notes for the Daily Bible Study Bible Reading Plan

by Wayne Blank

Ezra Chapter 5

The Lord's Prophets were operational in the time prior to Judah's exile to Babylon, warning the people to repent before it was too late. Prophets were also functioning during the exile in Babylon (e.g. The Prophecies of Daniel and The Prophecies Of Ezekiel) and were also active, or still active, at the time of the return, such as Haggai and Zechariah.

A Scroll

"Now the prophets, Haggai and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophesied to the Jews [to understand the origin of the term "Jew," see Abraham Wasn't A Jew] who were in Judah and Jerusalem, in the name of the God of Israel who was over them. Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and Jeshua the son of Jozadak arose and began to rebuild the house of God which is in Jerusalem; and with them were the prophets of God, helping them." (Ezra 5:1-2 RSV)

Empires typically divided their conquered or occupied territories into Provinces with governors and lieutenant governors. Tattenai (also rendered "Tatnai") was governor of "the province Beyond the River" (i.e. west of The Jordan River) who demanded to know why the returned Jews were working at rebuilding the city and the Temple without his permission.

"At the same time Tattenai the governor of the province Beyond the River and Shetharbozenai and their associates came to them and spoke to them thus, "Who gave you a decree to build this house and to finish this structure?" They also asked them this, "What are the names of the men who are building this building?"

But the eye of their God was upon the elders of the Jews, and they did not stop them till a report should reach Darius and then answer be returned by letter concerning it." (Ezra 5:3-5 RSV)

Tattenai reported the rebuilding to Darius the king, apparently oblivious that an earlier king of Persia (Cyrus) had ordered it (see Ezra 1:1-4 and notes for Ezra 1-4).

"The copy of the letter which Tattenai the governor of the province Beyond the River and Shethar-bozenai and his associates the governors who were in the province Beyond the River sent to Darius the king; they sent him a report, in which was written as follows: "To Darius the king, all peace. Be it known to the king that we went to the province of Judah, to the house of the great God. It is being built with huge stones, and timber is laid in the walls; this work goes on diligently and prospers in their hands." (Ezra 5:6-8 RSV)

Ezra Chapter 6

King Darius was also apparently unaware of how and why the people of Judah had returned to Jerusalem. He discovered the explanation from his own national archives of Persia (see Ancient Empires - Persia).

Bethesda

"Then Darius the king made a decree, and search was made in Babylonia, in the house of the archives where the documents were stored. And in Ecbatana, the capital which is in the province of Media, a scroll was found on which this was written:

"A record. In the first year of Cyrus the king, Cyrus the king issued a decree: Concerning the house of God at Jerusalem, let the house be rebuilt, the place where sacrifices are offered and burnt offerings are brought; its height shall be sixty cubits and its breadth sixty cubits, with three courses of great stones and one course of timber; let the cost be paid from the royal treasury. And also let the gold and silver vessels of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took out of the temple that is in Jerusalem and brought to Babylon, be restored and brought back to the temple which is in Jerusalem, each to its place; you shall put them in the house of God." (Ezra 6:1-5 RSV)

Darius then affirmed Cyrus' decree with his own proclamation to Tattenai to not only allow the people of Judah to continue their work, but to assist them.

"Then, according to the word sent by Darius the king, Tattenai, the governor of the province Beyond the River, Shetharbozenai, and their associates did with all diligence what Darius the king had ordered. And the elders [see The Senate] of the Jews built and prospered, through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. They finished their building by command of the God of Israel and by decree of Cyrus and Darius and Artaxerxes king of Persia; and this house was finished on the third day of the month of Adar [see Bible Calendar and Bible Months], in the sixth year of the reign of Darius the king.

"And the people of Israel, the priests and the Levites, and the rest of the returned exiles, celebrated the dedication of this house of God with joy. They offered 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 he-goats, according to the number of the tribes of Israel. And they set the priests in their divisions and the Levites in their courses, for the service of God at Jerusalem, as it is written in the book of Moses." (Ezra 6:13-18 RSV)

The people of Judah also restored the observance of Christ's only true Holy Days (see Christ's Passover, Christ's Feast of Unleavened Bread, Christ's Pentecost, Christ's Feast of Trumpets, Christ's Day Of Atonement, Christ's Feast of Tabernacles and Christ's Eighth Day).

"On the fourteenth day of the first month the returned exiles kept the Passover. For the priests and the Levites had purified themselves together; all of them were clean. So they killed the Passover lamb for all the returned exiles, for their fellow priests, and for themselves; it was eaten by the people of Israel who had returned from exile, and also by every one who had joined them and separated himself from the pollutions of the peoples of the land to worship The Lord, the God of Israel. And they kept the feast of unleavened bread seven days with joy; for The Lord had made them joyful, and had turned the heart of the king of Assyria to them, so that he aided them in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel." (Ezra 6:19-22 RSV)

Ezra Chapter 7

The arrival of Ezra (after whom the Biblical Book of Ezra is named) marked the beginning of the next stage of the restoration.

"Now after this, in the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, Ezra the son of Seraiah, son of Azariah, son of Hilkiah, son of Shallum, son of Zadok, son of Ahitub, son of Amariah, son of Azariah, son of Meraioth, son of Zerahiah, son of Uzzi, son of Bukki, son of Abishua, son of Phinehas, son of Eleazar [see The Lines Of Eleazar and Ithamar], son of Aaron the chief priest [see What Is Jesus Christ Doing Right Now?] - this Ezra went up from Babylonia. He was a scribe [see Scribes] skilled in the law of Moses which The Lord the God of Israel had given [see also Why Did Christ Put Moses To Death?]; and the king granted him all that he asked, for the hand of The Lord his God was upon him. And there went up also to Jerusalem, in the seventh year of Artaxerxes the king, some of the people of Israel, and some of the priests and Levites, the singers and gatekeepers, and the temple servants." (Ezra 7:1-7 RSV)

Persian Empire Map

Ezra's arrival was in summer (the fifth month of God's calendar is equivalent to July and/or August on the pagan Roman calendar that much of the world uses today - see Pope Gregory's Calendar, Sunset or Midnight? and Sun Day, Moon Day, Tiw's Day; also The Blasphemy Calendar).

"And he came to Jerusalem in the fifth month, which was in the seventh year of the king; for on the first day of the first month he began to go up from Babylonia, and on the first day of the fifth month he came to Jerusalem, for the good hand of his God was upon him. For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of The Lord, and to do it, and to teach his statutes and ordinances in Israel." (Ezra 7:8-10 RSV)

Ezra was given full political authority (actually over-riding the Persian provincial governor) to rebuild Judah.

"This is a copy of the letter which King Artaxerxes gave to Ezra the priest, the scribe, learned in matters of the commandments of The Lord and his statutes for Israel: "Artaxerxes, king of kings, to Ezra the priest, the scribe of the law of the God of heaven. And now make a decree that any one of the people of Israel or their priests or Levites in my kingdom, who freely offers to go to Jerusalem, may go with you. For you are sent by the king and his seven counselors to make inquiries about Judah and Jerusalem according to the law of your God, which is in your hand, and also to convey the silver and gold which the king and his counselors have freely offered to the God of Israel, whose dwelling is in Jerusalem, with all the silver and gold which you shall find in the whole province of Babylonia, and with the freewill offerings of the people and the priests, vowed willingly for the house of their God which is in Jerusalem." (Ezra 7:11-16 RSV)

Fact Finder: What king of Babylon was given a vision of the course of history from his own time right to the yet future return of Jesus Christ?
See Nebuchadnezzar's Dream


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