First, let’s go back to Isaiah 44 and 45– The Prophecy of Cyrus:
who says of Jerusalem, ‘It shall be inhabited,’
of the towns of Judah, ‘They shall be rebuilt,’
and of their ruins, ‘I will restore them,’
27 who says to the watery deep, ‘Be dry,
and I will dry up your streams,’
28 who says of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd
and will accomplish all that I please;
he will say of Jerusalem, “Let it be rebuilt,”
and of the temple, “Let its foundations be laid.”’
“This is what the Lord says to his anointed,
to Cyrus, whose right hand I take hold of
to subdue nations before him
and to strip kings of their armor,
In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and also to put it in writing:
In bullet form:
- The captives may go back to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple
- the people are to provide them with silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with freewill offerings for the temple of God in Jerusalem
- articles belonging to the temple of the Lord (even the ones they partied with) were returned
9 This was the inventory:
|10 gold bowls||30|
|matching silver bowls||410|
11 In all, there were 5,400 articles of gold and of silver. Sheshbazzar brought all these along with the exiles when they came up from Babylon to Jerusalem.
Yes, of course, I skimmed😝 but stop at verse 59 for a second.
59 The following came up from the towns of Tel Melah, Tel Harsha, Kerub, Addon and Immer, but they could not show that their families were descended from Israel:
70 years of captivity some people are going to lose their papers: So what do they do? There wasn’t an “Ancestry.com” to go to. Remember this book is written by Ezra, he writes everything from the Priestly perspective.
62 These searched for their family records, but they could not find them and so were excluded from the priesthood as unclean. 63 The governor ordered them not to eat any of the most sacred food until there was a priest ministering with the Urim and Thummim.
I know that rings a bell! 2 stones were used to “cast lots”….in my weird brain it was like a “Magic 8 Ball” that God controlled and it was right every time.
They went back to Jerusalem and settled the land:
70 The priests, the Levites, the musicians, the gatekeepers, and the temple servants settled in their own towns, along with some of the other people, and the rest of the Israelites settled in their towns.
Keep in mind that only about 50,000 people returned. Not many! They had established a new life and made new homes. The area around the Mediterranean Sea was beginning to thrive and many many people went to Alexandria in Egypt where life was good. Look at the surrounding areas that were growing economically and culturally. Would you have uprooted your family to return to a ruined town or would you rather drink wine in one of these cities?
Put this in your other pocket, because this will completely make sense when we get to the New Testament and Paul needs to go on trips to bring sermons to the Jewish people.
Chapter 3: When you read chapter 3 you will notice a few things
- They built the altar first-YES!! to worship the Lord!
- They feared the people that were currently living there. Well, think about it-they went back to a land that others had inhabited…Even though it was their land they were kind of coming in like the British did to the Native Indians in America.
- 4 Then in accordance with what is written, they celebrated the Festival of Tabernacles with the required number of burnt offerings prescribed for each day.
- Since the Exodus with Moses they were to commemorate what is called the Festival of Booths or Tabernacle to remember when they exited Egypt. How fitting since we called this the 2nd Exodus.
- The ending is bittersweet: many cried with joy as the new Temple was being built, but some elders remembered the day when Solomon’s Temple was at this very place and cried when they saw what it looked like now.