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Thursday, September 14 2017

Biblical Eras: The Rebuilding Of Judah And Jerusalem

"Then rose up the chief of the fathers of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests, and the Levites, with all them whose spirit God had raised, to go up to build the house of the LORD which is in Jerusalem. "

The return of the Kingdom of Judah (the tribes of Judah, Benjamin and Levi; see Biblical Eras: How Did Judah Become Known As Israel?) after 70 years of exile (see Biblical Eras: From Babylon To Jerusalem - Again) was accomplished in the time of Cyrus king of Persia - exactly as prophesied (Cyrus was even identified by name in the prophesy - before he was even born; see The Prophecies Of Cyrus of Persia).

Persians

"1:1 Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying,

1:2 Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia,

The LORD God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. 1:3 Who is there among you of all his people? his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the LORD God of Israel, (he is the God,) which is in Jerusalem. 1:4 And whosoever remaineth in any place where he sojourneth, let the men of his place help him with silver, and with gold, and with goods, and with beasts, beside the freewill offering for the house of God that is in Jerusalem.

1:5 Then rose up the chief of the fathers of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests, and the Levites, with all them whose spirit God had raised, to go up to build the house of the LORD which is in Jerusalem. 1:6 And all they that were about them strengthened their hands with vessels of silver, with gold, with goods, and with beasts, and with precious things, beside all that was willingly offered. 1:7 Also Cyrus the king brought forth the vessels of the house of the LORD, which Nebuchadnezzar had brought forth out of Jerusalem, and had put them in the house of his gods; 1:8 Even those did Cyrus king of Persia bring forth by the hand of Mithredath the treasurer, and numbered them unto Sheshbazzar, the prince of Judah." (Ezra 1:1-8 KJV)

The return of the people of Judah (Judah never had another reigning human king - see How The Messianic Line Survived In Babylon) was done progressively under the specific task leaderships of Zerubbabel, Ezra and Nehemiah (see Zerubbabel's Return, Ezra's Journey From Babylon and The Arrival Of Nehemiah's Cavalry).

  • 536-516 B.C.: Zerubbabel oversaw the beginning of the rebuilding of the Temple (Ezra chapters 3 to 6).

  • 458-432 B.C.: Nehemiah the governor and Ezra the priest oversaw the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem and its restoration as a fortified city (Nehemiah chapters 2 to 7).

The first people of Judah to return found the city of Jerusalem to be little more than a heap of ash and rubble - left desolate exactly as prophesied ("for as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbath, to fulfil threescore and ten years"). We first read of Nehemiah when, while he was yet only the cupbearer of the Persian king, he heard the reports of the state of Jerusalem: "the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire."

"1:1 The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah. And it came to pass in the month Chisleu, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the palace, 1:2 That Hanani, one of my brethren, came, he and certain men of Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews that had escaped, which were left of the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem. 1:3 And they said unto me, The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire. 1:4 And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven" (Nehemiah 1:1-4 KJV)

Assyria, Babylon, Persia

The LORD sent Nehemiah to restore Jerusalem as His capital city. The LORD provided the means to do so by the Persian king, who then held Judea and Jerusalem within the territory of his empire (he would continue to do so until his Persian Empire fell to the Greek Empire under Alexander the Great over a century later - as prophesied by the prophet Daniel who was still back in Persia, after his years in Babylon; see also The Prophets: Daniel).

"2:1 And it came to pass in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king, that wine was before him: and I took up the wine, and gave it unto the king. Now I had not been beforetime sad in his presence. 2:2 Wherefore the king said unto me, Why is thy countenance sad, seeing thou art not sick? this is nothing else but sorrow of heart. Then I was very sore afraid, 2:3 And said unto the king, Let the king live for ever: why should not my countenance be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers' sepulchres, lieth waste, and the gates thereof are consumed with fire?

2:4 Then the king said unto me, For what dost thou make request?

So I prayed to the God of heaven. 2:5 And I said unto the king, If it please the king, and if thy servant have found favour in thy sight, that thou wouldest send me unto Judah, unto the city of my fathers' sepulchres, that I may build it.

2:6 And the king said unto me, (the queen also sitting by him,) For how long shall thy journey be? and when wilt thou return? So it pleased the king to send me; and I set him a time.

2:7 Moreover I said unto the king, If it please the king, let letters be given me to the governors beyond the river, that they may convey me over till I come into Judah; 2:8 And a letter unto Asaph the keeper of the king's forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the palace which appertained to the house, and for the wall of the city, and for the house that I shall enter into. And the king granted me, according to the good hand of my God upon me. 2:9 Then I came to the governors beyond the river, and gave them the king's letters. Now the king had sent captains of the army and horsemen with me." (Nehemiah 2:1-9 KJV)

Upon his arrival, Nehemiah surveyed the ruins - and then immediately mustered the people to work.

"2:11 So I came to Jerusalem, and was there three days. 2:12 And I arose in the night, I and some few men with me; neither told I any man what my God had put in my heart to do at Jerusalem: neither was there any beast with me, save the beast that I rode upon.

2:13 And I went out by night by the gate of the valley, even before the dragon well, and to the dung port, and viewed the walls of Jerusalem, which were broken down, and the gates thereof were consumed with fire. 2:14 Then I went on to the gate of the fountain, and to the king's pool: but there was no place for the beast that was under me to pass. 2:15 Then went I up in the night by the brook, and viewed the wall, and turned back, and entered by the gate of the valley, and so returned. 2:16 And the rulers knew not whither I went, or what I did; neither had I as yet told it to the Jews, nor to the priests, nor to the nobles, nor to the rulers, nor to the rest that did the work.

2:17 Then said I unto them, Ye see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lieth waste, and the gates thereof are burned with fire: come, and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach. 2:18 Then I told them of the hand of my God which was good upon me; as also the king's words that he had spoken unto me. And they said, Let us rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for this good work.

2:19 But when Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, and Geshem the Arabian, heard it, they laughed us to scorn, and despised us, and said, What is this thing that ye do? will ye rebel against the king?

2:20 Then answered I them, and said unto them, The God of heaven, he will prosper us; therefore we his servants will arise and build: but ye have no portion, nor right, nor memorial, in Jerusalem." (Nehemiah 2:11-20 KJV)

The rebuilding was a massive reconstruction work. Clearing the vast amount of rubble, by brute human labor, was itself a monumental effort. Other occupants of the land opposed and threatened them most of the time. But by sheer tenacity the city of Jerusalem and the Temple rose from the dust.

Rebulding The Walls Of Jerusalem

"6:15 So the wall was finished in the twenty and fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty and two days. 6:16 And it came to pass, that when all our enemies heard thereof, and all the heathen that were about us saw these things, they were much cast down in their own eyes: for they perceived that this work was wrought of our God." (Nehemiah 6:15-16 KJV)

"3:8 Now in the second year of their coming unto the house of God at Jerusalem, in the second month, began Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and the remnant of their brethren the priests and the Levites, and all they that were come out of the captivity unto Jerusalem; and appointed the Levites, from twenty years old and upward, to set forward the work of the house of the LORD. 3:9 Then stood Jeshua with his sons and his brethren, Kadmiel and his sons, the sons of Judah, together, to set forward the workmen in the house of God: the sons of Henadad, with their sons and their brethren the Levites. 3:10 And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, they set the priests in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites the sons of Asaph with cymbals, to praise the LORD, after the ordinance of David king of Israel. 3:11 And they sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the LORD; because he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever toward Israel. And all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid." (Ezra 3:8-11 KJV)

"6:13 Then Tatnai, governor on this side the river, Shetharboznai, and their companions, according to that which Darius the king had sent, so they did speedily.6:14 And the elders of the Jews builded, and they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. And they builded, and finished it, according to the commandment of the God of Israel, and according to the commandment of Cyrus, and Darius, and Artaxerxes king of Persia. 6:15 And this house was finished on the third day of the month Adar, which was in the sixth year of the reign of Darius the king." (Ezra 6:13-15 KJV)

With the city and the Temple restored, or at least existing again, Ezra then read the Law of God, as a reminder that it was the reason that their ancestors were given Jerusalem, and why they had lost everything when they had forsaken the LORD.

"8:1 And all the people gathered themselves together as one man into the street that was before the water gate; and they spake unto Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded to Israel.

8:2 And Ezra the priest brought the law before the congregation both of men and women, and all that could hear with understanding, upon the first day of the seventh month. 8:3 And he read therein before the street that was before the water gate from the morning until midday, before the men and the women, and those that could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive unto the book of the law.

8:4 And Ezra the scribe stood upon a pulpit of wood, which they had made for the purpose; and beside him stood Mattithiah, and Shema, and Anaiah, and Urijah, and Hilkiah, and Maaseiah, on his right hand; and on his left hand, Pedaiah, and Mishael, and Malchiah, and Hashum, and Hashbadana, Zechariah, and Meshullam.

8:5 And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people; (for he was above all the people;) and when he opened it, all the people stood up: 8:6 And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God. And all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshipped the LORD with their faces to the ground.

8:7 Also Jeshua, and Bani, and Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodijah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, caused the people to understand the law: and the people stood in their place. 8:8 So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.

8:9 And Nehemiah, which is the Tirshatha, and Ezra the priest the scribe, and the Levites that taught the people, said unto all the people, This day is holy unto the LORD your God; mourn not, nor weep. For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law.

8:10 Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength.

8:11 So the Levites stilled all the people, saying, Hold your peace, for the day is holy; neither be ye grieved.

8:12 And all the people went their way to eat, and to drink, and to send portions, and to make great mirth, because they had understood the words that were declared unto them." (Nehemiah 8:1-12 KJV)

Through the leadership of Ezra and Nehemiah, Jerusalem was re-established as the capital city of the people, if not the nation, of the people of Judah. Neither the city, nor the Temple, was restored to their magnificence in the time of Solomon, but that was for the good - it was vanity that had gotten the city, the Temple, and the nation, destroyed.

Fact Finder: When did the religion known today as "Judaism" originate? How was/is it very different from that actually given by the LORD to the Israelites in the time of Moses?
See Israel In History and Prophecy: Judaism


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This Day In History, September 14

81: Domitian became the 11th Roman emperor (see A History Of Jerusalem: Pompey And The Caesars). He reigned (81-96 AD) during the time that the apostle John was given to write the book of Revelation (see Revelation: Thy Kingdom Come). Domitian succeeded his brother Titus who oversaw the prophesied destruction of Jerusalem in 70 (see A History Of Jerusalem: Titus And The Zealots and What Did Jesus Christ Say About Those Stones?).

629: Byzantine Emperor Heraclius entered Constantinople after his victory over the Persian Empire.

Byzantine Empire

1180: The Battle of Ishibashiyama in Japan.

1262: Cadiz, Spain, was captured by Alfonso X of Castille, ending a 500-year occupation of the city by the Moors.

1741: The German-born English composer George Frederick Handel finished his "Messiah" oratorio, after working on it non-stop for 23 days.

1752: Along with most of the rest of the world, Britain and its worldwide colonies adopted the Gregorian calendar (see Pope Gregory's Calendar; also The Blasphemy Calendar).

1812: During the Napoleonic Wars, Napoleon's invasion of Russia reached Moscow to find that the entire city had been abandoned and set on fire by retreating Russian forces (see Russia Or Europe - Who Has Been The Invader?).

Napoleon's Retreat From Russia

1829: The Russo-Turkish War ended with the signing of the Treaty of Adrianople between the Ottomans and the Russians (listen to our Sermon The Ottoman Empire).

1854: British and French forces landed in the Crimea to fight the Russians, who had started the Crimean War with their invasion of Turkey in July 1853.

1901: U.S. President William McKinley died at age 58, a week after being shot twice in the abdomen while standing in a reception line in Buffalo, New York. The assassin, a U.S. born anarchist, Leon Czolgosz, who walked right up to McKinley with a handkerchief-covered gun in his hand, was executed by electric chair about 8 weeks later.

McKinley

McKinley was one of many U.S. Presidents who did not survive their elected office (historically, the greatest danger for U.S. Presidents hasn't been foreign enemies, but their own people). In 1989, Ronald Reagan broke what some called the "year zero curse" when he became the first U.S. President since 1840, who won a Presidential election in a year ending in a zero, to leave office alive (although not without incident - Mr. Reagan was very seriously wounded in an assassination attempt in March of 1981):
1960: John F. Kennedy, assassinated
1940: Franklin D. Roosevelt, natural causes
1920: Warren Harding, natural causes
1900: William McKinley, assassinated
1880: James Garfield, assassinated
1860: Abraham Lincoln, assassinated
1840: William Harrison, natural causes

1917: After the communist revolution that overthrew the Czar Nicholas ("Czar" was term used for the Russian king, which was derived from the Roman "Caesar"), Russia was proclaimed a republic by the victorious rebels (see When Do Liberals Become Conservatives? and Why Are Politicians Called Left Or Right?).

Czar Nicholas

1939: The first functional helicopter, Russian-born Igor Sikorsky's VS-300, made its first flight (see Who Was The First To Fly?).

1944: Belgium, Luxembourg and part of Holland were liberated from Nazi occupation by U.S., British and Canadian troops.

1948: Construction of the United Nations buildings in New York began.

1959: The Soviet Union's unmanned Luna-2 became the first man-made spacecraft to land on the Moon.

1960: Iraq, Iran, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia formed OPEC, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

1982: Bashir Gemayel, President-elect of Lebanon, was assassinated by a bomb while speaking before a Maronite women's group. The explosive device, which was set by a pro-Syrian dissident, demolished the building and killed dozens of other people.

2001: A "National Prayer Service" was held at the Washington National Cathedral for victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks. A service was also held on Parliament Hill in Canada, the largest such service in Canada's capital.

In the hours after 9-11 happened, President George W. Bush closed U.S. airspace to everyone - even U.S. airliners over the Atlantic. That wasn't a problem for those who weren't yet half-way - they could turn around and return to Europe. But those closer to home didn't have enough fuel to turn around, but were still warned not to enter U.S. airspace or they'd be shot down. Fortunately for the 7,000 people on those U.S. airliners, there is a little airport in Canada, known as Gander.





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