September 16, Ezra 1-3

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In the first year of King Cyrus of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken through Jeremiah, the Lord roused the spirit of King Cyrus to issue a proclamation throughout his entire kingdom and to put it in writing:

This is what King Cyrus of Persia says: “The Lord, the God of the heavens, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and has appointed me to build him a house at Jerusalem in Judah. Any of his people among you, may his God be with him, and may he go to Jerusalem in Judah and build the house of the Lord, the God of Israel, the God who is in Jerusalem. Let every survivor, wherever he resides, be assisted by the men of that region with silver, gold, goods, and livestock, along with a freewill offering for the house of God in Jerusalem.”

Return from Exile

So the family heads of Judah and Benjamin, along with the priests and Levites—everyone whose spirit God had roused—prepared to go up and rebuild the Lord’s house in Jerusalem. All their neighbors supported them[a] with silver articles, gold, goods, livestock, and valuables, in addition to all that was given as a freewill offering. King Cyrus also brought out the articles of the Lord’s house that Nebuchadnezzar had taken from Jerusalem and had placed in the house of his gods. King Cyrus of Persia had them brought out under the supervision of Mithredath the treasurer, who counted them out to Sheshbazzar the prince of Judah. This was the inventory:

30 gold basins, 1,000 silver basins,

29 silver knives, 10 30 gold bowls,

410 various[b] silver bowls, and 1,000 other articles.

11 The gold and silver articles totaled 5,400. Sheshbazzar brought all of them when the exiles went up from Babylon to Jerusalem.

The Exiles Who Returned

These now are the people of the province who came from those captive exiles King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon[c] had deported to Babylon. They returned to Jerusalem and Judah, each to his own town. They came with Zerubbabel, Jeshua, Nehemiah, Seraiah, Reelaiah, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispar, Bigvai, Rehum, and Baanah.

The number of the Israelite men included[d]

Parosh’s descendants2,172
Shephatiah’s descendants372
Arah’s descendants775
Pahath-moab’s descendants:
Jeshua’s and Joab’s descendants2,812
Elam’s descendants1,254
Zattu’s descendants945
Zaccai’s descendants760
10 Bani’s descendants642
11 Bebai’s descendants623
12 Azgad’s descendants1,222
13 Adonikam’s descendants666
14 Bigvai’s descendants2,056
15 Adin’s descendants454
16 Ater’s descendants: of Hezekiah98
17 Bezai’s descendants323
18 Jorah’s descendants112
19 Hashum’s descendants223
20 Gibbar’s descendants95
2Bethlehem’s people123
22 Netophah’s men56
2Anathoth’s men128
24 Azmaveth’s people42
25 Kiriatharim’s, Chephirah’s, and Beeroth’s people743
26 Ramah’s and Geba’s people621
27 Michmas’s men122
28 Bethel’s and Ai’s men223
29 Nebo’s people52
30 Magbish’s people156
31 the other Elam’s people1,254
32 Harim’s people320
33 Lod’s, Hadid’s, and Ono’s people725
34 Jericho’s people345
35 Senaah’s people3,630

36 The priests included

Jedaiah’s descendants of the house of Jeshua973
37 Immer’s descendants1,052
38 Pashhur’s descendants1,247
39 and Harim’s descendants1,017

40 The Levites included

Jeshua’s and Kadmiel’s descendants
from Hodaviah’s descendants74

41 The singers included

Asaph’s descendants128

42 The gatekeepers’ descendants included

Shallum’s descendants, Ater’s descendants,
Talmon’s descendants, Akkub’s descendants,
Hatita’s descendants, Shobai’s descendants, in all139

43 The temple servants included

Ziha’s descendants, Hasupha’s descendants,

Tabbaoth’s descendants, 44 Keros’s descendants,

Siaha’s descendants, Padon’s descendants,

45 Lebanah’s descendants, Hagabah’s descendants,

Akkub’s descendants, 46 Hagab’s descendants,

Shalmai’s[e] descendants, Hanan’s descendants,

47 Giddel’s descendants, Gahar’s descendants,

Reaiah’s descendants, 48 Rezin’s descendants,

Nekoda’s descendants, Gazzam’s descendants,

49 Uzza’s descendants, Paseah’s descendants,

Besai’s descendants, 50 Asnah’s descendants,

Meunim’s[f] descendants, Nephusim’s[g] descendants,

51 Bakbuk’s descendants, Hakupha’s descendants,

Harhur’s descendants, 52 Bazluth’s descendants,

Mehida’s descendants, Harsha’s descendants,

53 Barkos’s descendants, Sisera’s descendants,

Temah’s descendants, 54 Neziah’s descendants,

and Hatipha’s descendants.

55 The descendants of Solomon’s servants included

Sotai’s descendants, Hassophereth’s descendants,
Peruda’s descendants, 56 Jaalah’s descendants,
Darkon’s descendants, Giddel’s descendants,
57 Shephatiah’s descendants, Hattil’s descendants,
Pochereth-hazzebaim’s descendants, and Ami’s descendants.
58 All the temple servants
and the descendants of Solomon’s servants392.

59 The following are those who came from Tel-melah, Tel-harsha, Cherub, Addan, and Immer but were unable to prove that their ancestral families[h] and their lineage were Israelite:

6Delaiah’s descendants,
Tobiah’s descendants,
Nekoda’s descendants652

61 and from the descendants of the priests: the descendants of Hobaiah, the descendants of Hakkoz, the descendants of Barzillai—who had taken a wife from the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite and who bore their name. 62 These searched for their entries in the genealogical records, but they could not be found, so they were disqualified from the priesthood. 63 The governor ordered them not to eat the most holy things until there was a priest who could consult the Urim and Thummim.

64 The whole combined assembly numbered42,360
65 not including their 7,337 male and female servants,
and their 200 male and female singers.
66 They had 736 horses, 245 mules,
67 435 camels, and 6,720 donkeys.

Gifts for the Work

68 After they arrived at the Lord’s house in Jerusalem, some of the family heads gave freewill offerings for the house of God in order to have it rebuilt on its original site. 69 Based on what they could give, they gave 61,000 gold coins,[i] 6,250 pounds[j] of silver, and 100 priestly garments to the treasury for the project. 70 The priests, Levites, singers, gatekeepers, temple servants, and some of the people settled in their towns, and the rest of Israel settled in their towns.

Sacrifice Restored

When the seventh month arrived, and the Israelites were in their towns, the people gathered as one in Jerusalem. Jeshua son of Jozadak and his brothers the priests along with Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and his brothers began to build the altar of Israel’s God in order to offer burnt offerings on it, as it is written in the law of Moses, the man of God. They set up the altar on its foundation and offered burnt offerings for the morning and evening on it to the Lord even though they feared the surrounding peoples. They celebrated the Festival of Shelters as prescribed, and offered burnt offerings each day, based on the number specified by ordinance for each festival day. After that, they offered the regular burnt offering and the offerings for the beginning of each month[k] and for all the Lord’s appointed holy occasions, as well as the freewill offerings brought to[l] the Lord.

On the first day of the seventh month they began to offer burnt offerings to the Lord, even though the foundation of the Lord’s temple had not yet been laid. They gave money to the stonecutters and artisans, and gave food, drink, and oil to the people of Sidon and Tyre, so they would bring cedar wood from Lebanon to Joppa by sea, according to the authorization given them by King Cyrus of Persia.

Rebuilding the Temple

In the second month of the second year after they arrived at God’s house in Jerusalem, Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, Jeshua son of Jozadak, and the rest of their brothers, including the priests, the Levites, and all who had returned to Jerusalem from the captivity, began to build. They appointed the Levites who were twenty years old or more to supervise the work on the Lord’s house. Jeshua with his sons and brothers, Kadmiel with his sons, and the sons of Judah[m] and of Henadad, with their sons and brothers, the Levites, joined together to supervise those working on the house of God.

Temple Foundation Completed

10 When the builders had laid the foundation of the Lord’s temple, the priests, dressed in their robes and holding trumpets, and the Levites descended from Asaph, holding cymbals, took their positions to praise the Lord, as King David of Israel had instructed. 11 They sang with praise and thanksgiving to the Lord: “For he is good; his faithful love to Israel endures forever.” Then all the people gave a great shout of praise to the Lord because the foundation of the Lord’s house had been laid.

12 But many of the older priests, Levites, and family heads, who had seen the first temple, wept loudly when they saw the foundation of this temple, but many others shouted joyfully. 13 The people could not distinguish the sound of the joyful shouting from that of the[n] weeping, because the people were shouting so loudly. And the sound was heard far away.

Ezra very closely mirrors the book of Nehemiah as it shows the rebuilding of Jerusalem. Nehemiah focuses on rebuilding the wall while Ezra focuses on rebuilding the Temple. We see in these chapters the amount of financial sacrifice that was involved in rebuilding the temple. The phrase “Based on what they could give” stood out to me. The people gave based on their ability. They weren’t all asked to give the same amount, but they were all asked to equally sacrifice to rebuild the temple. Today, in the New Testament church, we are asked to do the same. We are not called to all give the same, we are all called to equal sacrifice.

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