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The Jews cannot imagine that such opposition to their rebuilding exists within the very government sanctioning and financing their work. The support of a pagan government is not enough to enable and maintain the building of the Lord’s temple. While Darius struggles with political unrest throughout his empire, God incites the prophets Haggai and Zechariah to motivate the Jews to resume work on the building.

1-2 The prophets Haggai and Zechariah (descendant of Iddo) spoke to the Jews in Judah and Jerusalem with the words of the True God of Israel encouraging Zerubbabel (son of Shealtiel) and Jeshua (son of Jozadak) to resume the reconstruction of the True God’s temple in Jerusalem, and the prophets of God gave them assistance. Questioning the sudden commencement of the work, Tattenai (governor of the Persian province west of the Euphrates), Shethar-bozenai, and their associates approached the working Jews.

Persian Officials: Who told you to rebuild the temple?

We gave them the names of the people who were doing the work, fearing they might end our construction. But the True God protected the Jewish elders. The Persians did not intend to stop the laborers until Darius received a letter concerning the situation and sent his written reply. Tattenai (governor of the Persian province west of the Euphrates), Shethar-bozenai, and their fellow officials drafted that letter.

Officials’ Letter:

To our King Darius, we wish you peace.

It should be known that we have visited the great God’s temple in the province of Judah. The Jews are busy carefully laying huge stones and hoisting beams into the walls, and the work is progressing well. When we saw their progress, we asked the elders who told them to resume the construction: 10 what were the names of the laborers and the superintendents. 11 They responded by telling us about Cyrus’ decree:

We are the servants of the True God of heaven and earth; we are rebuilding His house—a house that was originally crafted by one of the greatest kings of Israel early in our nation’s history. 12 Our ancestors disobeyed the True God of heaven and provoked His anger. He empowered Nebuchadnezzar, the Chaldean king of Babylon, to capture our rebellious ancestors, deport them to Babylon, and destroy His temple.

13 We languished in captivity for more than a generation, until King Cyrus, in his first year as king over Persia and Babylon, allowed us to rebuild the True God’s temple. 14 Cyrus returned the gold and silver vessels, which Nebuchadnezzar had plundered from the True God’s temple in Jerusalem and displayed in the Babylonian temple, to Sheshbazzar, a recently appointed governor. 15 Cyrus told him to put the vessels back into the temple in Jerusalem and rebuild the True God’s temple on the foundations of the first temple. 16 So Sheshbazzar traveled to Jerusalem and laid the foundations of the True God’s temple. We have been working on the building, either gathering supplies or building the structure, ever since, but it is far from finished.

17 We suggest that you command a thorough search of the archives in your treasure house in Babylon, if that please you. If you find that the Jews’ story is correct and that King Cyrus’ original decree commissioned the rebuilding of the True God’s temple in Jerusalem, then send us your decision as to whether or not the Jews should continue their work.

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