When the Jews return to Jerusalem, they are ready to reconstitute the nation and reclaim God’s promise to Abraham and their ancestors. All families are asked to prove their lineage before they return to their ancestors’ cities, and all priests are asked to do the same before they begin service at the temple. The Jewish leaders are careful that the right people return to the right places so that the new nation resembles the nation under the great kings David, Solomon, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, and Josiah.
Just as the Southern Kingdom’s kings made the restoration of proper worship the priority of their reforms during the monarchy, the reconstruction of the altar is the first order of business when the Jews return to Jerusalem. But they cannot be overzealous in their rebuilding. The few Israelites who have remained in the land while most of the population was exiled revere the site of the destroyed temple as holy. To immediately build the temple on the old foundations could be considered apostasy, so the Jews proceed in their reforms with caution. They don’t want to incur the wrath of God or of their new neighbors.
3 In the seventh month, the month of Tishri, when the Israelites had settled into their towns and when all of the returning Jews had gathered together in Jerusalem in preparation for the festivals, 2 Jeshua (son of Jozadak) and his fellow priests, and Zerubbabel (son of Shealtiel) and others of those returning home built a new altar of uncut stone for burnt offerings to the True God of Israel following the law of Moses, the man of the True God. 3 The men built the altar on the ruined foundation of Solomon’s altar because they feared those who were left behind in the land during the exile. Jeshua and the priests burned offerings to the Eternal each morning and eveningRead full chapter