7 On the fourth day of Chislev, the ninth month of the fourth year that Darius was king of Persia,[a] the Lord again spoke to me. 2-3 It happened after the people of Bethel had sent Sharezer with Regem-Melech and his men to ask the priests in the Lord’s temple and the prophets to pray for them. So they prayed, “Should we mourn and go without eating during the fifth month,[b] as we have done for many years?”
4-5 It was then that the Lord All-Powerful told me to say to everyone in the country, including the priests:
For seventy years you have gone without eating during the fifth and seventh months of the year. But did you really do it for me? 6 And when you eat and drink, isn’t it for your own enjoyment? 7 My message today is the same one I commanded the earlier prophets[c] to speak to Jerusalem and its villages when they were prosperous, and when all of Judah, including the Southern Desert and the hill country, was filled with people.
8-9 So once again, I, the Lord All-Powerful, tell you, “See that justice is done and be kind and merciful to one another! 10 Don’t mistreat widows or orphans or foreigners or anyone who is poor, and stop making plans to hurt each other.”
11-12 But everyone who heard those prophets, stubbornly refused to obey. Instead, they turned their backs on everything my Spirit[d] had commanded the earlier prophets to preach. So I, the Lord, became angry 13 and said, “You people paid no attention when I called out to you, and now I’ll pay no attention when you call out to me.”
14 That’s why I came with a whirlwind and scattered them among foreign nations, leaving their lovely country empty of people and in ruins.
7.1Chislev. . . fourth year. . . king of Persia: Chislev, the ninth month of the Hebrew calendar, from about mid-November to mid-December; the fourth year of the rule of Darius was 518 B.C.
7.2,3fifth month: Ab, the fifth month of the Hebrew calendar, from about mid-July to mid-August. The temple was destroyed by the Babylonians in the year 587 or 586 B.C.
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