Ezra 5-6Contemporary English Version (CEV)
5 Then the Lord God of Israel told the prophets Haggai and Zechariah[a] to speak in his name to the people of Judah and Jerusalem. And they did. 2 So Zerubbabel the governor and Joshua the priest urged the people to start working on the temple again, and God’s prophets encouraged them.
3 Governor Tattenai of Western Province and his assistant Shethar Bozenai got together with some of their officials. Then they went to Jerusalem and said to the people, “Who told you to rebuild this temple? 4 Give us the names of the workers!”
5 But God was looking after the Jewish leaders. So the governor and his group decided not to make the people stop working on the temple until they could report to Darius and get his advice.
6 Governor Tattenai, Shethar Bozenai, and their advisors sent a report to Darius, 7 which said:
King Darius, we wish you the best! 8 We went to Judah, where the temple of the great God is being built with huge stones and wooden beams set in the walls. Everyone is working hard, and the building is going up fast.
9 We asked those in charge to tell us who gave them permission to rebuild the temple. 10 We also asked for the names of their leaders, so that we could write them down for you.
11 They claimed to be servants of the God who rules heaven and earth. And they said they were rebuilding the temple that was built many years ago by one of Israel’s greatest kings.[b]
12 We were told that their people had made God angry, and he let them be captured by Nebuchadnezzar,[c] the Babylonian king[d] who took them away as captives to Babylonia. Nebuchadnezzar tore down their temple, 13-15 took its gold and silver articles, and put them in the temple of his own god in Babylon.
They also said that during the first year Cyrus was king of Babylonia,[e] he gave orders for God’s temple to be rebuilt in Jerusalem where it had stood before. So Cyrus appointed Sheshbazzar governor of Judah and sent these gold and silver articles for him to put in the temple. 16 Sheshbazzar then went to Jerusalem and laid the foundation for the temple, and the work is still going on.
17 Your Majesty, please have someone look up the old records in Babylonia and find out if King Cyrus really did give orders to rebuild God’s temple in Jerusalem. We will do whatever you think we should.
King Cyrus' Order Is Rediscovered
6 King Darius ordered someone to go through the old records kept in Babylonia. 2 Finally, a scroll[f] was found in Ecbatana, the capital of Media Province, and it said:
This official record will show 3 that in the first year Cyrus was king, he gave orders to rebuild God’s temple in Jerusalem, so that sacrifices and offerings could be presented there.[g] It is to be built ninety feet high and ninety feet wide, 4 with one[h] row of wooden beams for each three rows of large stones. The royal treasury will pay for everything. 5 Then return to their proper places the gold and silver things that Nebuchadnezzar took from the temple and brought to Babylonia.
King Darius Orders the Work To Continue
6 King Darius sent this message:
Governor Tattenai of Western Province and Shethar Bozenai, you and your advisors must stay away from the temple. 7 Let the Jewish governor and leaders rebuild it where it stood before. And stop slowing them down!
8 Starting right now, I am ordering you to help the leaders by paying their expenses from the tax money collected in Western Province. 9 And don’t fail to let the priests in Jerusalem have whatever they need each day so they can offer sacrifices to the God of heaven. Give them young bulls, rams, sheep, as well as wheat, salt, wine, and olive oil. 10 I want them to be able to offer pleasing sacrifices to God and to pray for me and my family.
11 If any of you don’t obey this order, a wooden beam will be taken from your house and sharpened on one end. Then it will be driven through your body,[i] and your house will be torn down and turned into a garbage dump. 12 I ask the God who is worshiped in Jerusalem to destroy any king or nation who tries either to change what I have said or to tear down his temple. I, Darius, give these orders, and I expect them to be followed carefully.
The Temple Is Dedicated
13 Governor Tattenai, Shethar Bozenai, and their advisors carefully obeyed King Darius. 14 With great success the Jewish leaders continued working on the temple, while Haggai and Zechariah encouraged them by their preaching. And so, the temple was completed at the command of the God of Israel and by the orders of kings Cyrus, Darius, and Artaxerxes of Persia.[j] 15 On the third day of the month of Adar[k] in the sixth year of the rule of Darius,[l] the temple was finished.
16 The people of Israel, the priests, the Levites, and everyone else who had returned from exile were happy and celebrated as they dedicated God’s temple. 17 One hundred bulls, two hundred rams, and four hundred lambs were offered as sacrifices at the dedication. Also twelve goats were sacrificed as sin offerings for the twelve tribes of Israel. 18 Then the priests and Levites were assigned their duties in God’s temple in Jerusalem, according to the instructions Moses had written.
19 Everyone who had returned from exile celebrated Passover on the fourteenth day of the first month.[m] 20 The priests and Levites had gone through a ceremony to make themselves acceptable to lead in worship. Then some of them killed Passover lambs for those who had returned, including the other priests and themselves.
21 The sacrifices were eaten by the Israelites who had returned and by the neighboring people who had given up the sinful customs of other nations in order to worship the Lord God of Israel. 22 For seven days they celebrated the Festival of Thin Bread. Everyone was happy because the Lord God of Israel had made sure that the king of Assyria[n] would be kind to them and help them build the temple.
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