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Ezra and Nehemiah: Ezra 5:6-17

Ezra and Nehemiah: Ezra 5:6-17

 

During the reign of Darius I, Tattenai was the Persian provincial governor of the land lying west of the Euphrates River.

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6 This is a copy of the letter that Tattenai, governor of Trans-Euphrates, and Shethar-Bozenai and their associates, the officials of Trans-Euphrates, sent to King Darius. 7 The report they sent him read as follows:

To King Darius:

Cordial greetings.

8 The king should know that we went to the district of Judah, to the temple of the great God. The people are building it with large stones and placing the timbers in the walls. The work is being carried on with diligence and is making rapid progress under their direction.

9 We questioned the elders and asked them, “Who authorized you to rebuild this temple and restore this structure?” 10 We also asked them their names, so that we could write down the names of their leaders for your information.

 

11 This is the answer they gave us:

“We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth, and we are rebuilding the temple that was built many years ago, one that a great king of Israel built and finished. 12 But because our fathers angered the God of heaven, he handed them over to Nebuchadnezzar the Chaldean, king of Babylon, who destroyed this temple and deported the people to Babylon.

13 “However, in the first year of Cyrus king of Babylon, King Cyrus issued a decree to rebuild this house of God. 14 He even removed from the temple of Babylon the gold and silver articles of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple in Jerusalem and brought to the temple in Babylon.

“Then King Cyrus gave them to a man named Sheshbazzar, whom he had appointed governor, 15 and he told him, ‘Take these articles and go and deposit them in the temple in Jerusalem. And rebuild the house of God on its site.’ 16 So this Sheshbazzar came and laid the foundations of the house of God in Jerusalem. From that day to the present it has been under construction but is not yet finished.”

 

 17 Now if it pleases the king, let a search be made in the royal archives of Babylon to see if King Cyrus did in fact issue a decree to rebuild this house of God in Jerusalem. Then let the king send us his decision in this matter.

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Remember what’s going on here – The Israelites started to rebuild the temple with the consent of the King Cyrus. The people started to rebuild it, but soon lost focused and neglected the temple. Years later Ezra comes and tells the people to get back to work. As soon as the Israelites set out to finish the temple, the enemies of Israel send a letter to the current king, King Darius, accusing the Jews of starting a revolt and working against the king. King Darius sends back a letter, telling the Jews to stop working, until everything is worked out. In our text for today, King’s Darius’ governor goes to Jerusalem to inspect the allegations. Out text is the letter that Governor Tattenai sends to King Darius with his findings.

Take note of how the Israelites respond to the accusations. They recognized that they and their ancestors sinned before God. They also see how God called them to repentance through the trouble that befell them. They also recognize that God has put them under the authority of the Persians, and so they respect the king’s authority.  If you were King Darius, how would respond to this letter? How might this letter be different than other official letters that you have received over the years?