Ezra 3–5; Haggai 1–2

Rebuilding the Altar

kWhen the seventh month came, and the children of Israel were in the towns, the people gathered as one man to Jerusalem. Then arose Jeshua the son of Jozadak, with his fellow priests, and lZerubbabel the son of mShealtiel with his kinsmen, and they built the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings on it, nas it is written in the Law of Moses the oman of God. They set the altar in its place, pfor fear was on them because of the peoples of the lands, and qthey offered burnt offerings on it to the Lord, burnt offerings morning and evening. rAnd they kept the Feast of Booths, sas it is written, tand offered the daily burnt offerings by number according to the rule, as each day required, and after that the regular burnt uofferings, the offerings at the new moon vand at all the appointed feasts of the Lord, and the offerings of everyone who made a freewill offering to the Lord. From the first day of the seventh month they began to offer burnt offerings to the Lord. But the foundation of the temple of the Lord was not yet laid. So they gave money to the masons and the carpenters, wand food, drink, and oil to the Sidonians and the Tyrians xto bring cedar trees from Lebanon to the sea, to Joppa, yaccording to the grant that they had from Cyrus king of Persia.

Rebuilding the Temple

Now in the second year after their coming to the house of God at Jerusalem, in the second month, zZerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and zJeshua the son of Jozadak made a beginning, together with the rest of their kinsmen, the priests and the Levites and all who had come to Jerusalem from the captivity. They aappointed the Levites, from twenty years old and upward, to bsupervise the work of the house of the Lord. And zJeshua with his sons and his brothers, and Kadmiel and his sons, the sons of Judah, together bsupervised the workmen in the house of God, along with the csons of Henadad and the Levites, their sons and brothers.

10 And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, the priests in their vestments came forward with trumpets, and the Levites, the sons of Asaph, with cymbals, to praise the Lord, daccording to the directions of David king of Israel. 11 And they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the Lord,

eFor he is good,

for his steadfast love endures forever 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. 12 But many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers’ houses, fold men who had seen the first house, wept with a loud voice when they saw the foundation of this house being laid, though many shouted aloud for joy, 13 so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the joyful shout from the sound of the people’s weeping, for the people shouted with a great shout, and the sound was heard far away.

Adversaries Oppose the Rebuilding

Now when gthe adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the returned exiles were building a temple to the Lord, the God of Israel, they approached Zerubbabel and the heads of fathers’ houses and said to them, Let us build with you, for we worship your God as you do, and we have been sacrificing to him ever hsince the days of iEsarhaddon king of Assyria jwho brought us here. But Zerubbabel, Jeshua, and the rest of the heads of fathers’ houses in Israel said to them, kYou have nothing to do with us in building a house to our God; but we alone will build to the Lord, the God of Israel, las King Cyrus the king of Persia has commanded us.

Then mthe people of the land discouraged the people of Judah and made them afraid to build and bribed counselors against them to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia.

And in the reign of nAhasuerus, in the beginning of his reign, they wrote an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem.

The Letter to King Artaxerxes

In the days of Artaxerxes, Bishlam and oMithredath and Tabeel and the rest of their associates wrote to Artaxerxes king of Persia. The letter was written pin Aramaic and translated.1 Rehum the commander and Shimshai the scribe wrote a letter against Jerusalem to Artaxerxes the king as follows: Rehum the commander, Shimshai the scribe, and the rest of their associates, the qjudges, the rgovernors, the officials, the Persians, the men of Erech, the Babylonians, the men of Susa, that is, the sElamites, 10 and the rest of the nations whom the great and noble tOsnappar deported and settled in the cities of Samaria and in the rest of the province Beyond the River. 11 (This is a copy of the letter that they sent.) To Artaxerxes the king: Your servants, the men of the province Beyond the River, send greeting. And now 12 be it known to the king that the Jews who came up from you to us have gone to Jerusalem. They are rebuilding that rebellious and wicked city. They are vfinishing the walls and repairing the foundations. 13 Now be it known to the king that if this city is rebuilt and the walls finished, they will not pay wtribute, custom, or toll, and the royal revenue will be impaired. 14 Now because we eat the salt of the palace2 and it is not fitting for us to witness the king’s dishonor, therefore we send and inform the king, 15 in order that search may be made in the book of the records of your fathers. You will find in the book of the records and learn that this city is a rebellious city, hurtful to kings and provinces, and that sedition was stirred up in it from of old. That was why this city was laid waste. 16 We make known to the king that if this city is rebuilt and its walls finished, you will then have no possession in the province Beyond the River.

The King Orders the Work to Cease

17 The king sent an answer: To Rehum the commander and Shimshai the scribe and the rest of their associates who live in Samaria and in the rest of the province Beyond the River, greeting. And now 18 the letter that you sent to us has been xplainly read before me. 19 And I made a decree, and search has been made, and it has been found that this city from of old has risen against kings, and that rebellion and sedition have been made in it. 20 And mighty kings have been over Jerusalem, ywho ruled over the whole province Beyond the River, to whom ztribute, custom, and toll were paid. 21 Therefore make a decree that these men be made to cease, and that this city be not rebuilt, until a decree is made by me. 22 And take care not to be slack in this matter. Why should damage grow to the hurt of the king?

23 Then, when the copy of King Artaxerxes’ letter was read before Rehum and Shimshai the scribe and their associates, they went in haste to the Jews at Jerusalem and by force and power made them cease. 24 Then the work on the house of God that is in Jerusalem stopped, and it ceased until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.

Rebuilding Begins Anew

Now the prophets, aHaggai and bZechariah the 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. cThen Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and dJeshua the son of Jozadak arose and began to rebuild the house of God that is in Jerusalem, and the prophets of God were ewith them, supporting them.

At the same time fTattenai the governor of the province Beyond the River and Shethar-bozenai and their associates came to them and spoke to them thus: gWho gave you a decree to build this house and to finish this structure? They also asked them this:3 What are the names of the men who are building this building? But hthe eye of their God was on the elders of the Jews, and they did not stop them until the report should reach Darius and then an answer be returned by letter concerning it.

Tattenai’s Letter to King Darius

This is a copy of the letter that fTattenai the governor of the province Beyond the River and Shethar-bozenai and his associates, the igovernors 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. Then we asked those elders and spoke to them thus: gWho gave you a decree to build this house and to finish this structure? 10 We also asked them their names, for your information, that we might write down the names of their leaders.4 11 And this was their reply to us: We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth, and we are rebuilding the house that was built many years ago, jwhich a great king of Israel built and kfinished. 12 lBut because our fathers had angered the God of heaven, he mgave them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, the Chaldean, who destroyed this house and carried away the people to Babylonia. 13 nHowever, in the first year of Cyrus king of Babylon, Cyrus the king made a decree that this house of God should be rebuilt. 14 oAnd the gold and silver vessels of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple that was in Jerusalem and brought into the temple of Babylon, these Cyrus the king took out of the temple of Babylon, and they were delivered to one whose name was pSheshbazzar, whom he had made governor; 15 and he said to him, Take these vessels, go and put them in the temple that is in Jerusalem, and let the house of God be rebuilt on its site. 16 Then this pSheshbazzar came and qlaid the foundations of the house of God that is in Jerusalem, and from that time until now it has been in building, and it is rnot yet finished. 17 Therefore, if it seems good to the king, slet search be made in the royal archives there in Babylon, to see whether a decree was issued by Cyrus the king for the rebuilding of this house of God in Jerusalem. And let the king send us his pleasure in this matter.


The Command to Rebuild the Temple

aIn the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month, on the first day of the month, the word of the Lord came by the hand of Haggai the prophet to bZerubbabel the son of cShealtiel, governor of Judah, and to dJoshua the son of eJehozadak, the high priest: Thus says the Lord of hosts: These people say the time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the Lord. Then the word of the Lord came fby the hand of Haggai the prophet, gIs it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while hthis house lies in ruins? Now, therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: iConsider your ways. jYou have sown much, and harvested little. kYou eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who learns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes.

Thus says the Lord of hosts: iConsider your ways. Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that mI may take pleasure in it and that nI may be glorified, says the Lord. jYou looked for much, and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home, oI blew it away. Why? declares the Lord of hosts. Because of my house hthat lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house. 10 Therefore pthe heavens above you have withheld the dew, and the earth has withheld its produce. 11 And qI have called for a drought on the land and the hills, on rthe grain, the new wine, the oil, on what the ground brings forth, on man and beast, and son all their labors.

The People Obey the Lord

12 tThen uZerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and uJoshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, with all vthe remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the Lord their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the Lord their God had sent him. And the people feared the Lord. 13 Then Haggai, the messenger of the Lord, spoke to the people with the Lord’s message, wI am with you, declares the Lord. 14 And xthe Lord stirred up the spirit of uZerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of yJoshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of all zthe remnant of the people. And they came and aworked on the house of the Lord of hosts, their God, 15 bon the twenty-fourth day of the month, in the sixth month, in the second year of Darius the king.

The Coming Glory of the Temple

cIn the seventh month, on the twenty-first day of the month, the word of the Lord came by the hand of Haggai the prophet: Speak now to dZerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to dJoshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to all the remnant of the people, and say, eWho is left among you who saw this house fin its former glory? How do you see it now? gIs it not as nothing in your eyes? Yet now hbe strong, O dZerubbabel, declares the Lord. hBe strong, O dJoshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest. hBe strong, all you people of the land, declares the Lord. iWork, for jI am with you, declares the Lord of hosts, kaccording to the covenant that I made with you when you came out of Egypt. lMy Spirit remains in your midst. mFear not. For thus says the Lord of hosts: nYet once more, in a little while, oI will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land. And I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and pI will fill this house with glory, says the Lord of hosts. qThe silver is mine, and the gold is mine, declares the Lord of hosts. rThe latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts. And sin this place I will give peace, declares the Lord of hosts.

Blessings for a Defiled People

10 tOn the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, uin the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet, 11 Thus says the Lord of hosts: vAsk the priests about the law: 12 If someone carries wholy meat in the fold of his garment and touches with his fold bread or stew or wine or oil or any kind of food, does it become holy? The priests answered and said, xNo. 13 Then Haggai said, yIf someone who is unclean by contact with a dead body ztouches any of these, does it become unclean? The priests answered and said, It does become unclean. 14 Then Haggai answered and said, aSo is it with this people, and with this nation before me, declares the Lord, and so with every work of their hands. And what they offer there is unclean. 15 Now then, bconsider from this day onward.1 Before stone was placed upon stone in the temple of the Lord, 16 how did you fare? cWhen2 one came to a heap of twenty measures, there were but ten. When one came to the wine vat to draw fifty measures, there were but twenty. 17 dI struck you and all the products of your toil with blight and with mildew and with hail, eyet you did not turn to me, declares the Lord. 18 bConsider from this day onward, ffrom the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month. Since gthe day that the foundation of the Lord’s temple was laid, bconsider: 19 hIs the seed yet in the barn? Indeed, the vine, the fig tree, the pomegranate, and the olive tree have yielded nothing. But from this day on iI will bless you.

Zerubbabel Chosen as a Signet

20 The word of the Lord came a second time to Haggai fon the twenty-fourth day of the month, 21 Speak to jZerubbabel, governor of Judah, saying, kI am about to shake the heavens and the earth, 22 and lto overthrow the throne of kingdoms. I am about to destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the nations, and moverthrow the chariots and their riders. And the horses and their riders shall go down, nevery one by the sword of his brother. 23 On that day, declares the Lord of hosts, I will take you, O jZerubbabel omy servant, the son of pShealtiel, declares the Lord, and make you qlike a3 signet ring, ofor I have chosen you, declares the Lord of hosts.