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Cyrus Helps the Prisoners Return

1 During the first year* that Cyrus was king of Persia, the Lord encouraged Cyrus to make an announcement. Cyrus put that announcement in writing and had it read every place in his kingdom. This happened so that the Lord’s message that was spoken through Jeremiah* would truly happen. This is the announcement: 2“From Cyrus king of Persia: The Lord, the God of heaven, gave all the kingdoms on earth to me. And the Lord chose me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in the country of Judah. 3The Lord is the God of Israel, the God that is in Jerusalem. If any of God’s people are living among you, then I pray God will bless them. You must let them go to Jerusalem in the country of Judah. You must let them go build the Lord’s temple. 4And so in any place where there might be survivors* of Israel, the men in that place must support those survivors. Give those people silver, gold, cows, and other things. Give them gifts for God’s temple in Jerusalem.” 5So the family leaders from the family groups of Judah and Benjamin prepared to go up to Jerusalem. They were going to Jerusalem to build the Lord’s temple. Also, every person that God had encouraged got ready to go to Jerusalem. 6All their neighbors gave them many gifts. They gave them silver, gold, cows, and other expensive things. Their neighbors freely gave them all those things. 7Also, King Cyrus brought out the things that belonged in the Lord’s temple. Nebuchadnezzar had taken those things away from Jerusalem. Nebuchadnezzar had put those things in his temple where he kept his false gods. 8Cyrus king of Persia told the man that keeps his money to bring those things out. That man’s name was Mithredath. So Mithredath brought those things out to Sheshbazzar,* the leader of Judah. 9Those things from the Lord’s temple that Mithredath brought out: gold dishes 30 silver dishes 1,000 knives and pans 29 10gold bowls 30 silver bowls like the gold bowls 410 other dishes 1,000 11All together, there were 5,400 things made from gold and silver. Sheshbazzar* brought all these things with him when the prisoners left Babylon and went back to Jerusalem.

first year That is, 538 B.C. Lord’s message ... Jeremiah See Jer. 25:12–14. survivors People who escaped some disaster. Here this means the Jewish people who survived the destruction of Judah and Israel by its enemy armies. Sheshbazzar This is probably the man named Zerubbabel, a name that means “Stranger in Babylon,” or “He left Babylon.” Sheshbazzar is probably his Aramaic name.  

The List of the Prisoners That Returned

2 These are the people of the province that came back from captivity. In the past, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon took these people as prisoners to Babylon. These people came back to Jerusalem and Judah. Each person went back to his own town. 2These are the people who returned with Zerubbabel:* Jeshua, Nehemiah, Seraiah, Reelaiah, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispar, Bigvai, Rehum, and Baanah. This is the list of names and numbers of men from Israel that came back: 3The descendants of Parosh 2,172 4the descendants of Shephatiah 372 5the descendants of Arah 775 6the descendants of Pahath Moab of the family of Jeshua and Joab 2,812 7the descendants of Elam 1,254 8the descendants of Zattu 945 9the descendants of Zaccai 760 10the descendants of Bani 642 11the descendants of Bebai 623 12the descendants of Azgad 1,222 13the descendants of Adonikam 666 14the descendants of Bigvai 2,056 15the descendants of Adin 454 16the descendants of Ater through the family of Hezekiah 98 17the descendants of Bezai 323 18the descendants of Jorah 112 19the descendants of Hashum 223 20the descendants of Gibbar 95 21from the town of Bethlehem 123 22from the town of Netophah 56 23from the town of Anathoth 128 24from the town of Azmaveth 42 25from the towns of Kiriath Jearim, Kephirah, and Beeroth 743 26from the towns of Ramah and Geba 621 27from the town of Micmash 122 28from the towns of Bethel and Ai 223 29from the town of Nebo 52 30from the town of Magbish 156 31from the other town named Elam 1,254 32from the town of Harim 320 33from the towns of Lod, Hadid, and Ono 725 34from the town of Jericho 345 35from the town of Senaah 3,630 36These are the priests: the descendants of Jedaiah through the family of Jeshua 973 37the descendants of Immer 1,052 38the descendants of Pashhur 1,247 39the descendants of Harim 1,017 40These are the people from the family group of Levi: The descendants of Jeshua and Kadmiel through the family of Hodaviah 74 41These are the singers: The descendants of Asaph 128 42These are the descendants of the temple gatekeepers: The descendants of Shallum, Ater, Talmon, Akkub, Hatita, and Shobai 139 43These are the descendants of the special temple servants: Ziha, Hasupha, Tabbaoth, 44Keros, Siaha, Padon, 45Lebanah, Hagabah, Akkub, 46Hagab, Shalmai, Hanan, 47Giddel, Gahar, Reaiah, 48Rezin, Nekoda, Gazzam, 49Uzza, Paseah, Besai, 50Asnah, Meunim, Nephussim, 51Bakbuk, Hakupha, Harhur, 52Bazluth, Mehida, Harsha, 53Barkos, Sisera, Temah, 54Neziah, and Hatipha. 55These are the descendants of Solomon’s servants: Sotai, Hassophereth, Peruda, 56Jaala, Darkon, Giddel, 57Shephatiah, Hattil, Pokereth Hazzebaim, and Ami 58The temple servants and descendants of Solomon’s servants 392 59Some people came to Jerusalem from these towns of Tel Melah, Tel Harsha, Kerub, Addon, and Immer. But these people could not prove that their families were from the family of Israel: 60The descendants of Delaiah, Tobiah, and Nekoda 652 61From the family of priests there were the descendants of: Hobaiah, Hakkoz, and Barzillai (If a man married a daughter of Barzillai from Gilead, that man was counted as a descendant of Barzillai.) 62These people searched for their family histories, but they could not find them. Their names were not included in the list of priests. They could not prove that their ancestors were priests, so they could not serve as priests. 63The governor ordered these people not to eat any of the holy food. They could not eat any of this food until there was a priest who could use the Urim and Thummim* to ask God what to do. 64–65All together, there were 42,360 people in the group that came back. This is not counting their 7,337 men and women servants. They also had 200 men and women singers with them. 66–67They had 736 horses, 245 mules, 435 camels, and 6,720 donkeys. 68That group arrived at the Lord’s temple in Jerusalem. Then the family leaders gave their gifts for building the Lord’s temple. They would build the new temple in the same place as the temple that was destroyed. 69Those people gave as much as they were able. These are the things those people gave for building the temple: 1,100 pounds* of gold, 3 tons* of silver, and 100 coats that priests wear. 70So the priests, Levites, and some of the other people moved to Jerusalem and the area around it. This group included the {temple} singers, gatekeepers, and the temple servants. The other people of Israel settled in their own home towns.

Zerubbabel He is also called Sheshbazzar. Urim and Thummim Special stones that the High Priest wore in the judgement pouch. They were used to get decisions from God. See Ex. 28:30. 1,100 pounds Or, about 500kg. Literally, “61,000 drachmas.” 3 tons Or, 3,000kg. Literally, “5,000 minas.”

Rebuilding the Altar

3 So, by the seventh month,* the people of Israel had moved back to their own home towns. At that time, all the people met together in Jerusalem. They were all united as one people. 2Then Jeshua son of Jozadak and the priests with him, along with Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, and the people with him, built the altar of the God of Israel. Those people built the altar of the God of Israel so they could offer sacrifices on it. They built it just like it says in the Law of Moses. Moses was God’s special servant. 3Those people were afraid of the other people living near them. But that didn’t stop them. They built the altar on its old foundation and offered burnt offerings on it to the Lord. They offered those sacrifices in the morning and in the evening. 4Then they celebrated the Festival of Shelters* just like the Law {of Moses} said. They offered the right number of burnt offerings for each day of the festival. 5After that, they began offering the continual burnt offerings each day, the offerings for the New Moon, and for all the other festivals and holidays that were commanded by the Lord. The people also began giving any other gifts they wanted to give to the Lord. 6So, on the first day of the seventh month,* these people of Israel again began offering sacrifices to the Lord. This was done even though the temple had not been built again.

Rebuilding the Temple

7Then those people who had come back from captivity gave money to the stonecutters and carpenters. And those people gave food, wine, and olive oil. They used these things to pay the people of Tyre and Sidon to bring cedar logs from Lebanon. Those people wanted to bring the logs in ships to the sea coast town of Joppa like {Solomon did when he built} the first temple. Cyrus king of Persia gave permission for them to do these things. 8So, in the second month* of the second year after their arrival at the temple in Jerusalem, Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and Jeshua son of Jozadak began the work. Their brothers, the priests, Levites, and every person that came back to Jerusalem from captivity, began working with them. They chose Levites that were 20 years old and older to be the leaders in the building of the Lord’s temple. 9These were the men who supervised the work of building the Lord’s temple: Jeshua and his sons, Kadmiel and his sons (the descendants of Judah), the sons of Henadad and their brothers, the Levites. 10The builders finished laying the foundation for the Lord’s temple. When the foundation was finished, the priests put on their priests’ clothing. Then they got their trumpets. And the sons of Asaph got their cymbals. They all took their places to praise the Lord. This was done the way David, king of Israel, ordered in the past. 11They sang the response songs* Songs of Praise and Praise the Lord Because He is Good. His True Love Continues Forever. And then all the people cheered—they gave a loud shout and praised the Lord. They did this because the foundation of the Lord’s temple had been laid. 12But many of the older priests, Levites, and family leaders cried. Why? Because those older people had seen the first temple—{and they remembered how beautiful it was}. They cried out loud when they saw the new temple. They cried while many of the other people were happy and shouting. 13The sound could be heard far away. All those people made so much noise that no person could tell the difference between the shouts of joy and the crying.

seventh month This was September-October, 538 B.C. Festival of Shelters A festival in the seventh month to give thanks for the harvest. It continued for seven days. See Ex. 23:16; Lev. 23:34–36, 43. second month That is, April-May, 536 B.C. response songs Songs where one group (Levites) sang one part and the other group (the people) responded with another part. Here these are probably Psalms 111–118 and Psalm 136.

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