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Ezra 6 Contemporary English Version (CEV)

King Cyrus' Order Is Rediscovered

King Darius ordered someone to go through the old records kept in Babylonia. Finally, a scroll[a] was found in Ecbatana, the capital of Media Province, and it said:

This official record will show 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.[b] It is to be built ninety feet high and ninety feet wide, with one[c] row of wooden beams for each three rows of large stones. The royal treasury will pay for everything. 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

King Darius sent this message:

Governor Tattenai of Western Province and Shethar Bozenai, you and your advisors must stay away from the temple. Let the Jewish governor and leaders rebuild it where it stood before. And stop slowing them down!

Starting right now, I am ordering you to help the leaders by paying their expenses from the tax money collected in Western Province. 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,[d] 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.[e] 15 On the third day of the month of Adar[f] in the sixth year of the rule of Darius,[g] 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.

The Passover

19 Everyone who had returned from exile celebrated Passover on the fourteenth day of the first month.[h] 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[i] would be kind to them and help them build the temple.


  1. 6.2 scroll: A roll of paper or special leather used for writing on.
  2. 6.3 so that. . . there: One possible meaning for the difficult Aramaic text.
  3. 6.4 one: One possible meaning for the difficult Aramaic text.
  4. 6.11 driven through your body: A well-known punishment in the ancient Near East.
  5. 6.14 Artaxerxes of Persia: See the note at 4.7.
  6. 6.15 Adar: The twelfth month of the Hebrew calendar, from about mid-February to about mid-March.
  7. 6.15 sixth year. . . Darius: 515 B.C.
  8. 6.19 the first month: Nisan, the first month of the Hebrew calendar, from about mid-March to mid-April.
  9. 6.22 king of Assyria: Meaning the king of Persia, because Assyria was now part of the Persian Empire.

Ezra 6 New International Version (NIV)

The Decree of Darius

King Darius then issued an order, and they searched in the archives stored in the treasury at Babylon. A scroll was found in the citadel of Ecbatana in the province of Media, and this was written on it:


In the first year of King Cyrus, the king issued a decree concerning the temple of God in Jerusalem:

Let the temple be rebuilt as a place to present sacrifices, and let its foundations be laid. It is to be sixty cubits[a] high and sixty cubits wide, with three courses of large stones and one of timbers. The costs are to be paid by the royal treasury. Also, the gold and silver articles of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took from the temple in Jerusalem and brought to Babylon, are to be returned to their places in the temple in Jerusalem; they are to be deposited in the house of God.

Now then, Tattenai, governor of Trans-Euphrates, and Shethar-Bozenai and you other officials of that province, stay away from there. Do not interfere with the work on this temple of God. Let the governor of the Jews and the Jewish elders rebuild this house of God on its site.

Moreover, I hereby decree what you are to do for these elders of the Jews in the construction of this house of God:

Their expenses are to be fully paid out of the royal treasury, from the revenues of Trans-Euphrates, so that the work will not stop. Whatever is needed—young bulls, rams, male lambs for burnt offerings to the God of heaven, and wheat, salt, wine and olive oil, as requested by the priests in Jerusalem—must be given them daily without fail, 10 so that they may offer sacrifices pleasing to the God of heaven and pray for the well-being of the king and his sons.

11 Furthermore, I decree that if anyone defies this edict, a beam is to be pulled from their house and they are to be impaled on it. And for this crime their house is to be made a pile of rubble. 12 May God, who has caused his Name to dwell there, overthrow any king or people who lifts a hand to change this decree or to destroy this temple in Jerusalem.

I Darius have decreed it. Let it be carried out with diligence.

Completion and Dedication of the Temple

13 Then, because of the decree King Darius had sent, Tattenai, governor of Trans-Euphrates, and Shethar-Bozenai and their associates carried it out with diligence. 14 So the elders of the Jews continued to build and prosper under the preaching of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah, a descendant of Iddo. They finished building the temple according to the command of the God of Israel and the decrees of Cyrus, Darius and Artaxerxes, kings of Persia. 15 The temple was completed on the third day of the month Adar, in the sixth year of the reign of King Darius.

16 Then the people of Israel—the priests, the Levites and the rest of the exiles—celebrated the dedication of the house of God with joy. 17 For the dedication of this house of God they offered a hundred bulls, two hundred rams, four hundred male lambs and, as a sin offering[b] for all Israel, twelve male goats, one for each of the tribes of Israel. 18 And they installed the priests in their divisions and the Levites in their groups for the service of God at Jerusalem, according to what is written in the Book of Moses.

The Passover

19 On the fourteenth day of the first month, the exiles celebrated the Passover. 20 The priests and Levites had purified themselves and were all ceremonially clean. The Levites slaughtered the Passover lamb for all the exiles, for their relatives the priests and for themselves. 21 So the Israelites who had returned from the exile ate it, together with all who had separated themselves from the unclean practices of their Gentile neighbors in order to seek the Lord, the God of Israel. 22 For seven days they celebrated with joy the Festival of Unleavened Bread, because the Lord had filled them with joy by changing the attitude of the king of Assyria so that he assisted them in the work on the house of God, the God of Israel.


  1. Ezra 6:3 That is, about 90 feet or about 27 meters
  2. Ezra 6:17 Or purification offering
New International Version (NIV)

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