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Ezra and Nehemiah: Ezra 6:1-12

Ezra and Nehemiah: Ezra 6:1-12

 

1 King Darius then issued an order, and they searched in the archives stored in the treasury at Babylon. 2 A scroll was found in the citadel of Ecbatana in the province of Media, and this was written on it:

Memorandum:

3 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 ninety feet high and ninety feet wide, 4 with three courses of large stones and one of timbers. The costs are to be paid by the royal treasury. 5 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.

6 Now then, Tattenai, governor of Trans-Euphrates, and Shethar-Bozenai and you, their fellow officials of that province, stay away from there. 7 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.

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

The expenses of these men are to be fully paid out of the royal treasury, from the revenues of Trans-Euphrates, so that the work will not stop. 9 Whatever is needed-young bulls, rams, male lambs for burnt offerings to the God of heaven, and wheat, salt, wine and 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 changes this edict, a beam is to be pulled from his house and he is to be lifted up and impaled on it. And for this crime his 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.

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Notice that the evidence of Cyrus’s edict did not appear in Babylon, but in Ecbatana. Ecbatana was the summer residence of the Persian kings. This might indicate the time of year when Cyrus originally issued the decree. Ezra repeats Cyrus’s edict, which was first issued some twenty-five years earlier.

Darius told Tattenai to stay away from the Jews and to allow the work to proceed. The house of God was to be rebuilt. The royal revenue would cover the costs. Whatever was needed would be given. Darius threatened to impale anyone who interfered with decree.

It’s cool to look back at all of this and see the hand of God at work. The Lord was providing for his children of Israel and was advancing his work through the King Darius. Commenting on Romans 13:4, Martin Luther writes, “For he is God’s servant, even though he himself who hold the power may be ignorant of the fact…in order that he may remove you from evil.” For even if evil men do not serve him, God yet causes it to happen that the good which they have and which they misuse ultimately serves God. Hence the king of Babylon, a godless idolater, is called a “servant” by God in the writings of the prophets. King Darius fulfilled his duty by protecting the people of Israel from those who wished them harm. Ezra presented the completion of the temple as the will of kings Cyrus, Darius, and Artaxerxes.  Anyone who opposed the rebuilding of the temple opposed these kings. Since the Lord God stirred his Spirit within these kings to make them favorable to the rebuilding, anyone who opposed the kings’ will also opposed God’s will. Amazing how God works!