1st Return of the Jews to Judah & the Rebuilding of the Temple Ezra 1-6
Ezra 3:1-6:22 The Construction of the Temple
Ezra 3:1-6-The Sacrifices are Begun
A direct journey from Babylon to Judah was 530 miles…but to travel from one to the other was about 900 miles. It would have taken about 4 months to make the trip (cf. 7:8-9). Seven months after arriving in Jerusalem, they set up the altar on its foundations and celebrated the Feast of Trumpets (cf. Numbers 29:1-6)...but the Temple had not been restored. From the moment of the arrival of the Jews from Babylon…the people who had been transplanted to Judah years before by Babylon began to make life difficult for them. They had been settled there for years…and the presence of this new group of Jews appeared to be a threat to their control over the land and people.
Ezra 3:7-13-The Foundation of the Temple is Laid (June, 535 B.C.)
When the foundation of the Temple was completed they held a celebration...but many of the older men wept because it did not compare with the grandeur and glory of Solomon's Temple. The same reaction occurred 15 years later when construction was renewed.
For information on the building of the second Temple see:
Ezra 4:1-16-The Opposition Rises
Local people tried to get the Jews to let them join in on the rebuilding of the Temple, but they were refused because there were not of Jewish heritage and faith. In response, they stirred up trouble among the local community of non-Jews against them and they wrote to the king and told him that the people would rebel against him if they completed their work. This took place in 534 B.C.
4:1-2 the enemies. Descendants from the inter-marriages of Israelites and foreigners who were transplanted to Samaria by Esarhaddon, King of Assyria, in 669 in fulfillment of the prophecy of Isa. 7:8, uttered in 734 (2 Kings 17:24). This procedure by the Assyrians effectively stifled nationalistic spirit and created a syncretistic religion. Zerubabbel and Joshua refused the offer to help.
The Ryrie Study Bible, footnote on Ezra 4:1-2, p. 698
Ezra 4:6-Xerxes I is the king of Persia. This is the only mention of him in Ezra.
Ezra 4:7-Artaxerxes has now become the king of Persia.
Ezra 4:17-5:17-The Construction is Stopped
Ezra 4:21-24-King Artaxerxes sent a letter demanding that work be stopped until he could further investigate the matter...534 B.C. Work was stopped until 520 B.C. Artaxerxes could be the same person as “Tobiah” mentioned in Nehemiah 2:19. Aramaic was the common commercial language of the time. Ezra 4:8-6:18 was originally written in Aramaic.
Ezra 5:1-2-The prophets Haggai and Zechariah (see 6:14) spoke to the people and encouraged them to continue with the rebuilding of the Temple...520 B.C.
Ezra 5:3-17-Tattenai, the Persian governor of the region hears that building of the Temple has resumed and investigates. The Jews tell him about the decree of Cyrus...so, he writes to King Dairus and asks what he is to do.
Prayer: Lord, there always have been adversaries to Your work. Please help me to trust in You when they appear. I pray that You will give me such a clear vision of what it is that You are doing that no matter what happens I will continue to trust in You.