Ezra 3-5 Contemporary English Version (CEV)
The First Offering on the New Altar
3 During the seventh month[a] of the year, the Israelites who had settled in their towns went to Jerusalem. 2 The priest Joshua son of Jozadak, together with the other priests, and Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and his relatives rebuilt the altar of Israel’s God. Then they were able to offer sacrifices there by following the instructions God had given to Moses. 3 And they built the altar where it had stood before,[b] even though they were afraid of the people who were already living around there. Then every morning and evening they burned sacrifices and offerings to the Lord.
4 The people followed the rules for celebrating the Festival of Shelters and offered the proper sacrifices each day. 5 They offered sacrifices to please the Lord,[c] sacrifices at each New Moon Festival, and sacrifices at the rest of the Lord’s festivals. Every offering the people had brought was presented to the Lord.
6 Although work on the temple itself had not yet begun, the people started offering sacrifices on the Lord’s altar on the first day of the seventh month of that year.
The Rebuilding of the Temple Begins
7 King Cyrus of Persia had said the Israelites could have cedar trees brought from Lebanon to Joppa by sea. So they sent grain, wine, and olive oil to the cities of Tyre and Sidon as payment for these trees, and they gave money to the stoneworkers and carpenters.
8 During the second month[d] of the second year after the people had returned from Babylonia, they started rebuilding the Lord’s temple. Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, Joshua son of Jozadak, the priests, the Levites, and everyone else who had returned started working. Every Levite over twenty years of age was put in charge of some part of the work. 9 The Levites in charge of the whole project were Joshua and his sons and relatives and Kadmiel and his sons from the family of Hodaviah.[e] The family of Henadad worked along with them.
10 When the builders had finished laying the foundation of the temple, the priests put on their robes and blew trumpets in honor of the Lord, while the Levites from the family of Asaph praised God with cymbals. All of them followed the instructions given years before by King David.[f] 11 They praised the Lord and gave thanks as they took turns singing:
“The Lord is good!
Everyone started shouting and praising the Lord because work on the foundation of the temple had begun. 12 Many of the older priests and Levites and the heads of families cried aloud because they remembered seeing the first temple years before. But others were so happy that they celebrated with joyful shouts. 13 Their shouting and crying were so noisy that it all sounded alike and could be heard a long way off.
Foreigners[g] Want To Help Rebuild the Temple
4 The enemies of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin heard that the people had come back to rebuild the temple of the Lord God of Israel. 2 So they went to Zerubbabel and to the family leaders and said, “Let us help! Ever since King Esarhaddon of Assyria[h] brought us here, we have worshiped your God and offered sacrifices to him.”
3 But Zerubbabel, Joshua, and the family leaders answered, “You cannot take part in building a temple for the Lord our God! We will build it ourselves, just as King Cyrus of Persia commanded us.”
4 Then the neighboring people began to do everything possible to frighten the Jews[i] and to make them stop building. 5 During the time that Cyrus was king and even until Darius[j] became king, they kept bribing government officials to slow down the work.
Trouble Rebuilding Jerusalem[k]
6 In the first year that Xerxes was king,[l] the neighboring people brought written charges against the people of Judah and Jerusalem.
8-10 A letter was also written to Artaxerxes about Jerusalem by Governor Rehum, Secretary Shimshai, and their advisors, including the judges, the governors, the officials, and the local leaders. They were joined in writing this letter by people from Erech and Babylonia, the Elamites from Susa,[o] and people from other foreign nations that the great and famous Ashurbanipal[p] had forced to settle in Samaria and other parts of Western Province.[q]
11 This letter said:
Your Majesty King Artaxerxes, we are your servants from everywhere in Western Province, and we send you our greetings.
12 You should know that the Jews who left your country have moved back to Jerusalem and are now rebuilding that terrible city. In fact, they have almost finished rebuilding the walls and repairing the foundations. 13 You should also know that if the walls are completed and the city is rebuilt, the Jews won’t pay any kind of taxes, and there will be less money in your treasury.
14 We are telling you this, because you have done so much for us, and we want everyone to respect you. 15 If you look up the official records of your ancestors, you will find that Jerusalem has constantly rebelled and has led others to rebel against kings and provinces. That’s why the city was destroyed in the first place. 16 If Jerusalem is rebuilt and its walls completed, you will no longer have control over Western Province.
17 King Artaxerxes answered:
Greetings to Governor Rehum, Secretary Shimshai, and to your advisors in Samaria and other parts of Western Province.
18 After your letter was translated and read to me, 19 I had the old records checked. It is true that for years Jerusalem has rebelled and caused trouble for other kings and nations. 20 And powerful kings have ruled Western Province from Jerusalem and have collected all kinds of taxes.
21 I want you to command the people to stop rebuilding the city until I give further notice. 22 Do this right now, so that no harm will come to the kingdom.
23 As soon as this letter was read, Governor Rehum, Secretary Shimshai, and their advisors went to Jerusalem and forced everyone to stop rebuilding the city.
Work on the Temple Starts Again
24 The Jews were forced to stop work on the temple and were not able to do any more building until the year after Darius became king of Persia.[r]
5 Then the Lord God of Israel told the prophets Haggai and Zechariah[s] 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.[t]
12 We were told that their people had made God angry, and he let them be captured by Nebuchadnezzar,[u] the Babylonian king[v] 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,[w] 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.
John 20 Contemporary English Version (CEV)
Jesus Is Alive
20 On Sunday morning while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. 2 She ran to Simon Peter and to Jesus' favorite disciple and said, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb! We don’t know where they have put him.”
3 Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. 4 They ran side by side, until the other disciple ran faster than Peter and got there first. 5 He bent over and saw the strips of linen cloth lying inside the tomb, but he did not go in.
6 When Simon Peter got there, he went into the tomb and saw the strips of cloth. 7 He also saw the piece of cloth that had been used to cover Jesus' face. It was rolled up and in a place by itself. 8 The disciple who got there first then went into the tomb, and when he saw it, he believed. 9 At that time Peter and the other disciple did not know that the Scriptures said Jesus would rise to life. 10 So the two of them went back to the other disciples.
Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene
11 Mary Magdalene stood crying outside the tomb. She was still weeping, when she stooped down 12 and saw two angels inside. They were dressed in white and were sitting where Jesus' body had been. One was at the head and the other was at the foot. 13 The angels asked Mary, “Why are you crying?”
She answered, “They have taken away my Lord’s body! I don’t know where they have put him.”
14 As soon as Mary said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there. But she did not know who he was. 15 Jesus asked her, “Why are you crying? Who are you looking for?”
She thought he was the gardener and said, “Sir, if you have taken his body away, please tell me, so I can go and get him.”
16 Then Jesus said to her, “Mary!”
She turned and said to him, “Rabboni.” The Aramaic word “Rabboni” means “Teacher.”
17 Jesus told her, “Don’t hold on to me! I have not yet gone to the Father. But tell my disciples that I am going to the one who is my Father and my God, as well as your Father and your God.” 18 Mary Magdalene then went and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord. She also told them what he had said to her.
Jesus Appears to His Disciples
19 The disciples were afraid of the Jewish leaders, and on the evening of that same Sunday they locked themselves in a room. Suddenly, Jesus appeared in the middle of the group. He greeted them 20 and showed them his hands and his side. When the disciples saw the Lord, they became very happy.
21 After Jesus had greeted them again, he said, “I am sending you, just as the Father has sent me.” 22 Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, they will be forgiven. But if you don’t forgive their sins, they will not be forgiven.”
Jesus and Thomas
24 Although Thomas the Twin was one of the twelve disciples, he wasn’t with the others when Jesus appeared to them. 25 So they told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
But Thomas said, “First, I must see the nail scars in his hands and touch them with my finger. I must put my hand where the spear went into his side. I won’t believe unless I do this!”
26 A week later the disciples were together again. This time, Thomas was with them. Jesus came in while the doors were still locked and stood in the middle of the group. He greeted his disciples 27 and said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and look at my hands! Put your hand into my side. Stop doubting and have faith!”
28 Thomas replied, “You are my Lord and my God!”
29 Jesus said, “Thomas, do you have faith because you have seen me? The people who have faith in me without seeing me are the ones who are really blessed!”
Why John Wrote His Book
30 Jesus worked many other miracles[a] for his disciples, and not all of them are written in this book. 31 But these are written so that you will put your faith in Jesus as the Messiah and the Son of God. If you have faith in[b] him, you will have true life.
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