Ezra 3:1-4:5

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016

Ezra 3

INTRODUCTION:

 

We have already seen –

The First Return of the Exiles Under Zerubbabel, 1:1 - 2:70

                  a.   The decree of Cyrus, 1:1-11

 

                  b.  The register of the returning exiles, 2:1-70

We move on to –

  II.     The Restoration of the Worship of the Lord, 3:1 - 6:22

            A.  The Temple rebuilt, 3:1 - 6:15

 

The altar and the foundation rebuilt (chap. 3) (BKC)

Ezra 3:1 And when the seventh month was come, and the children of Israel were in the cities, the people gathered themselves together [i.e. assembled] as one man to Jerusalem.

 

3:1 – (RSB) The journey of 530 direct mi . . . from Babylon to Palestine (about 900 traveling mi . . .) would have taken at least four months, as it did Ezra later (cf. 7:8-9).

 

The first task facing the people was the rebuilding of the altar of burnt offering, directly east of where the temple building itself would be located. This was essential for reestablishing the sacrificial system which set these people apart as a nation and which was used by God as a means for atoning for their sins (BKC).

 

The words, The people assembled as one man, suggest they all agreed that the building project must begin (BKC).

Ezra 3:2 Then stood up Jeshua [or Joshua] the son of Jozadak, and his brethren the priests, and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and his brethren, and builded the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings thereon, as it is written in the law of Moses the man of God.

 

3:2 – (RSB) The altar was erected on the first day of the seventh month (v. 6), which was the beginning of the Feast of Trumpets . . ., an interesting foreshadowing of Israel’s final regathering. . . .

Ezra 3:3 And they set the altar upon his [i.e. its] bases; for fear was upon them because of the people of those countries: and they offered burnt offerings thereon unto the LORD, even burnt offerings morning and evening.

Ezra 3:4 They kept also the feast of tabernacles, as it is written, and offered the daily burnt offerings by number, according to the custom, as the duty of every day required [i.e. in the number required by ordinance for each day];

 

3:4 – (RSB) the feast of tabernacles. Lasting from the fifteenth to the twenty-second of the seventh month (Sept.-Oct.). . . .

Ezra 3:5 And afterward offered the continual burnt offering, both of the new moons, and of all the set feasts of the LORD that were consecrated [i.e. all the appointed feasts prescribed by the LORD], and of every one that willingly offered a freewill offering unto the LORD.

Ezra 3:6 From the first day of the seventh month began they to offer burnt offerings unto the LORD. But the foundation of the temple of the LORD was not yet laid.

 

The sacrifices showed that the people wanted to be responsive to the Law of God (BKC).

 

There was a period of preparation for building the temple foundation for the work did not begin till the second month of the second year after their arrival (May-June 536, exactly 70 years after the first deportation in 605). Why this delay of seven months after the altar was built? Because they had to get organized and secure the building materials (BKC).

Ezra 3:7 They gave money also unto the masons, and to the carpenters; and meat [i.e. food], and drink, and oil [i.e. olive oil], unto them of Zidon, and to them of Tyre, to bring cedar trees from Lebanon to the sea of Joppa, according to the grant that they had of Cyrus king of Persia.

 

3:7 – (RSB) This pattern followed that of the building of Solomon’s Temple. . . . The details of Cyrus’s decree are recorded in 6:3-5.

Ezra 3:8 Now in the second year (535 B.C.) of their coming unto the house of God at Jerusalem, in the second month, began Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua [i.e. Joshua] the son of Jozadak, and the remnant of their brethren the priests and the Levites, and all they that were come out of the captivity unto Jerusalem; and appointed the Levites, from twenty years old and upward, to set forward [i.e. to supervise, to oversee] the work of the house of the LORD.

 

3:8 – (RSB) twenty years. . . . The foundation was laid in the spring of 535 B.C., bringing to a close the 70 years of captivity, which had begun in 605. twenty years old and upward. Though originally the age was 30, then reduced to 25, now it was 20, likely because of the shortage of Levites. . . .

Ezra 3:9 Then stood Jeshua [i.e. Joshua] with his sons and his brethren, Kadmiel and his sons, the sons of Judah, together, to set forward [i.e. to oversee] the workmen in the house of God: the sons of Henadad, with their sons and their brethren the Levites.

Ezra 3:10 And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD (535 B.C.), they set the priests [i.e. the priests stood] in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites the sons of Asaph with cymbals, to praise the LORD, after the ordinance of David king of Israel.

Ezra 3:11 And they sang together by course [i.e. responsively] in praising and giving thanks unto the LORD; because he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever toward Israel. And all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid.

 

3:11 – (RSB) they sang ... by course. i.e., antiphonally [i.e. sang alternately by two groups]. . . .

Ezra 3:12 But many of the priests and Levites and chief of the fathers, who were ancient men, that had seen the first house, when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice; and many shouted aloud for joy:

 

3:12 – (RSB) Many older men who remembered the grandeur of Solomon’s Temple (destroyed about 50 years before) wept because this Temple was smaller and less magnificent. The same reaction occurred 15 years later when construction was renewed. See note on Hag. 2:3.

 

Haggai 2:3 Who is left among you that saw this house in her first glory? and how do ye see it now? is it not in your eyes in comparison of it as nothing?

 

Ryrie note on Haggai 2:3 The background for this question is in Ezra 3:8-13 . A few septuagenarians [i.e. people in their 70s] and older ones, who could remember the larger and more beautiful Temple of Solomon, wept when they saw the smaller, plainer Temple of Zerubbabel. Coupled with the slim harvest, this sight also infected others with discouragement.

Ezra 3:13 So that the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people: for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the noise was heard afar off [i.e. far away].

Ezra 4

 

  II.     The Restoration of the Worship of the Lord (continued), 3:1 - 6:22

            A.  The Temple rebuilt (continued), 3:1 - 6:15

 

The rebuilding opposed (4:1 - 6:12) (BKC)

 

Ezra did not record all the events in those 21 years (from 536) till the temple was finished (in 515). That is because he was making a theological point that the temple of the Lord was completed despite opposition that might have stopped any other project. The temple was the basis for the postexilic community’s fellowship with God. Not till the temple was built could the people really live in accord with the covenant. Ezra’s account of this interim period differs in tone from Haggai’s account of opposition (from 520 to 518). Ezra did not dwell on the sinful condition of the people as they lived in the land as did Haggai (Hag. 1). Ezra’s account focused on external pressures from the surrounding peoples, whereas Haggai focused on the internal attitudes of the people who valued material possessions above spiritual things (Hag. 1:4-6) (BKC).

 

Attempts of enemies to stop the building (4:1-5) (BKC)

 

The enemies used two methods of opposition to try to keep the temple from being built. First they offered to help in the construction process, thereby hoping to infiltrate the ranks and sidetrack the building project. When that did not work, they frightened the builders (perhaps with threats on their lives) and even hired counselors to frustrate them (vv. 4-5) (BKC).

Ezra 4:1 Now when the adversaries [i.e. the enemies] of Judah and Benjamin heard that the children of the captivity [i.e. the descendants of the captivity, the people of the exile] builded the temple unto the LORD God of Israel;

Ezra 4:2 Then they came to Zerubbabel, and to the chief of the fathers, and said unto them, Let us build with you: for we seek your God, as ye do; and we do sacrifice unto him since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assur [i.e. Assyria], which brought us up hither [i.e. who brought us here].

 

4:1-2 – (RSB) the adversaries. Descendants from the intermarriages of Israelites and foreigners who were transplanted to Samaria by Esar-haddon, king of Assyria, in 669 B.C. in fulfillment of the prophecy of Isa. 7:8, which was uttered in 734 B.C. (II Kings 17:24 ). This procedure by the Assyrians effectively stifled nationalistic spirit and created a syncretistic religion [i.e. a blending of two or more religious systems into one new system]. Zerubbabel and Joshua refused the offer of help.

 

Isaiah 7:8 For the head of Syria is Damascus, and the head of Damascus is Rezin; and within threescore and five years [i.e. 65 years] shall Ephraim [i.e. Israel, the Northern Kingdom] be broken, that it be not a people.

 

The enemies of Judah and Benjamin refer to the people living in Palestine since the time of the fall of the Northern Kingdom in 722 B.C. The Assyrian Empire, which conquered the 10 Northern tribes, deported some of the people away to Assyria and brought in other peoples to intermarry (II Kings 17:23-24 ). This tactic prevented strong nationalistic uprisings in the conquered lands (BKC).

 

II Kings 17:23-2423 Until the LORD removed Israel out of his sight, as he had said by all his servants the prophets. So was Israel carried away out of their own land to Assyria unto this day. 24 And the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon, and from Cuthah, and from Ava, and from Hamath, and from Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel: and they possessed Samaria, and dwelt in the cities thereof.

 

The “enemies” (called “the peoples around them,” Ezra 4:4 ) were the descendants of these mixed peoples and the forefathers of the New Testament Samaritans. These people in Ezra’s day claimed that they worshiped the same God, that is, Yahweh, the God of Israel. But they had a syncretistic form of worship; they worshiped both Yahweh and others (II Kings 17:29 ; 32-34, 41). Therefore their statement (Ezra 4:2 ) was not fully accurate and was apparently made to mislead the leadership of the returned band. Esarhaddon, king of Assyria, who brought us here, was the Assyrian monarch who aggressively pursued the policy of partial deportation and to whose reign these enemies could trace their ancestry in Palestine. Esarhaddon, a son of Sennacherib, ruled from 681 to 669 B.C. Some people, however, had been displaced into Samaria earlier by the Assyrian kings Sargon II (722-705) and Sennacherib (705-681). Judah and Benjamin’s enemies were also appealing on the basis of the fact that they, like the Jews, were a “displaced people,” having been brought in from the outside. In a sense they were downplaying the nation of Israel’s “roots” in the land (BKC).

 

II Kings 17:29 Howbeit every nation made gods of their own, and put them in the houses of the high places which the Samaritans had made, every nation in their cities wherein they dwelt.

 

II Kings 17:32-3432 So they feared the LORD, and made unto themselves of the lowest of them priests of the high places, which sacrificed for them in the houses of the high places. 33 They feared the LORD, and served their own gods, after the manner of the nations whom they carried away from thence. 34 Unto this day they do after the former manners: they fear not the LORD, neither do they after their statutes, or after their ordinances, or after the law and commandment which the LORD commanded the children of Jacob, whom he named Israel.

 

II Kings 17:41 So these nations feared the LORD, and served their graven images, both their children, and their children’s children: as did their fathers, so do they unto this day.

Ezra 4:3 But Zerubbabel, and Jeshua [i.e. Joshua], and the rest of the chief of the fathers of Israel, said unto them, Ye have nothing to do with us to build an house unto our God; but we ourselves together will build unto the LORD God of Israel, as king Cyrus the king of Persia hath commanded us.

Ezra 4:4 Then the people of the land weakened the hands of the people of Judah [i.e. discouraged the people of Judah, tried to discourage the people of Judah], and troubled them in building [i.e. and frightened them from building],

Ezra 4:5 And hired counsellors against them, to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Dari

Ezra 3:1-4:5

Ezra 3

INTRODUCTION:

 

We have already seen –

The First Return of the Exiles Under Zerubbabel, 1:1 - 2:70

                  a.   The decree of Cyrus, 1:1-11

 

                  b.  The register of the returning exiles, 2:1-70

We move on to –

  II.     The Restoration of the Worship of the Lord, 3:1 - 6:22

            A.  The Temple rebuilt, 3:1 - 6:15

 

The altar and the foundation rebuilt (chap. 3) (BKC)

Ezra 3:1 And when the seventh month was come, and the children of Israel were in the cities, the people gathered themselves together [i.e. assembled] as one man to Jerusalem.

 

3:1 – (RSB) The journey of 530 direct mi . . . from Babylon to Palestine (about 900 traveling mi . . .) would have taken at least four months, as it did Ezra later (cf. 7:8-9).

 

The first task facing the people was the rebuilding of the altar of burnt offering, directly east of where the temple building itself would be located. This was essential for reestablishing the sacrificial system which set these people apart as a nation and which was used by God as a means for atoning for their sins (BKC).

 

The words, The people assembled as one man, suggest they all agreed that the building project must begin (BKC).

Ezra 3:2 Then stood up Jeshua [or Joshua] the son of Jozadak, and his brethren the priests, and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and his brethren, and builded the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings thereon, as it is written in the law of Moses the man of God.

 

3:2 – (RSB) The altar was erected on the first day of the seventh month (v. 6), which was the beginning of the Feast of Trumpets . . ., an interesting foreshadowing of Israel’s final regathering. . . .

Ezra 3:3 And they set the altar upon his [i.e. its] bases; for fear was upon them because of the people of those countries: and they offered burnt offerings thereon unto the LORD, even burnt offerings morning and evening.

Ezra 3:4 They kept also the feast of tabernacles, as it is written, and offered the daily burnt offerings by number, according to the custom, as the duty of every day required [i.e. in the number required by ordinance for each day];

 

3:4 – (RSB) the feast of tabernacles. Lasting from the fifteenth to the twenty-second of the seventh month (Sept.-Oct.). . . .

Ezra 3:5 And afterward offered the continual burnt offering, both of the new moons, and of all the set feasts of the LORD that were consecrated [i.e. all the appointed feasts prescribed by the LORD], and of every one that willingly offered a freewill offering unto the LORD.

Ezra 3:6 From the first day of the seventh month began they to offer burnt offerings unto the LORD. But the foundation of the temple of the LORD was not yet laid.

 

The sacrifices showed that the people wanted to be responsive to the Law of God (BKC).

 

There was a period of preparation for building the temple foundation for the work did not begin till the second month of the second year after their arrival (May-June 536, exactly 70 years after the first deportation in 605). Why this delay of seven months after the altar was built? Because they had to get organized and secure the building materials (BKC).

Ezra 3:7 They gave money also unto the masons, and to the carpenters; and meat [i.e. food], and drink, and oil [i.e. olive oil], unto them of Zidon, and to them of Tyre, to bring cedar trees from Lebanon to the sea of Joppa, according to the grant that they had of Cyrus king of Persia.

 

3:7 – (RSB) This pattern followed that of the building of Solomon’s Temple. . . . The details of Cyrus’s decree are recorded in 6:3-5.

Ezra 3:8 Now in the second year (535 B.C.) of their coming unto the house of God at Jerusalem, in the second month, began Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua [i.e. Joshua] the son of Jozadak, and the remnant of their brethren the priests and the Levites, and all they that were come out of the captivity unto Jerusalem; and appointed the Levites, from twenty years old and upward, to set forward [i.e. to supervise, to oversee] the work of the house of the LORD.

 

3:8 – (RSB) twenty years. . . . The foundation was laid in the spring of 535 B.C., bringing to a close the 70 years of captivity, which had begun in 605. twenty years old and upward. Though originally the age was 30, then reduced to 25, now it was 20, likely because of the shortage of Levites. . . .

Ezra 3:9 Then stood Jeshua [i.e. Joshua] with his sons and his brethren, Kadmiel and his sons, the sons of Judah, together, to set forward [i.e. to oversee] the workmen in the house of God: the sons of Henadad, with their sons and their brethren the Levites.

Ezra 3:10 And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD (535 B.C.), they set the priests [i.e. the priests stood] in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites the sons of Asaph with cymbals, to praise the LORD, after the ordinance of David king of Israel.

Ezra 3:11 And they sang together by course [i.e. responsively] in praising and giving thanks unto the LORD; because he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever toward Israel. And all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid.

 

3:11 – (RSB) they sang ... by course. i.e., antiphonally [i.e. sang alternately by two groups]. . . .

Ezra 3:12 But many of the priests and Levites and chief of the fathers, who were ancient men, that had seen the first house, when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice; and many shouted aloud for joy:

 

3:12 – (RSB) Many older men who remembered the grandeur of Solomon’s Temple (destroyed about 50 years before) wept because this Temple was smaller and less magnificent. The same reaction occurred 15 years later when construction was renewed. See note on Hag. 2:3.

 

Haggai 2:3 Who is left among you that saw this house in her first glory? and how do ye see it now? is it not in your eyes in comparison of it as nothing?

 

Ryrie note on Haggai 2:3 The background for this question is in Ezra 3:8-13 . A few septuagenarians [i.e. people in their 70s] and older ones, who could remember the larger and more beautiful Temple of Solomon, wept when they saw the smaller, plainer Temple of Zerubbabel. Coupled with the slim harvest, this sight also infected others with discouragement.

Ezra 3:13 So that the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people: for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the noise was heard afar off [i.e. far away].

Ezra 4

 

  II.     The Restoration of the Worship of the Lord (continued), 3:1 - 6:22

            A.  The Temple rebuilt (continued), 3:1 - 6:15

 

The rebuilding opposed (4:1 - 6:12) (BKC)

 

Ezra did not record all the events in those 21 years (from 536) till the temple was finished (in 515). That is because he was making a theological point that the temple of the Lord was completed despite opposition that might have stopped any other project. The temple was the basis for the postexilic community’s fellowship with God. Not till the temple was built could the people really live in accord with the covenant. Ezra’s account of this interim period differs in tone from Haggai’s account of opposition (from 520 to 518). Ezra did not dwell on the sinful condition of the people as they lived in the land as did Haggai (Hag. 1). Ezra’s account focused on external pressures from the surrounding peoples, whereas Haggai focused on the internal attitudes of the people who valued material possessions above spiritual things (Hag. 1:4-6) (BKC).

 

Attempts of enemies to stop the building (4:1-5) (BKC)

 

The enemies used two methods of opposition to try to keep the temple from being built. First they offered to help in the construction process, thereby hoping to infiltrate the ranks and sidetrack the building project. When that did not work, they frightened the builders (perhaps with threats on their lives) and even hired counselors to frustrate them (vv. 4-5) (BKC).

Ezra 4:1 Now when the adversaries [i.e. the enemies] of Judah and Benjamin heard that the children of the captivity [i.e. the descendants of the captivity, the people of the exile] builded the temple unto the LORD God of Israel;

Ezra 4:2 Then they came to Zerubbabel, and to the chief of the fathers, and said unto them, Let us build with you: for we seek your God, as ye do; and we do sacrifice unto him since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assur [i.e. Assyria], which brought us up hither [i.e. who brought us here].

 

4:1-2 – (RSB) the adversaries. Descendants from the intermarriages of Israelites and foreigners who were transplanted to Samaria by Esar-haddon, king of Assyria, in 669 B.C. in fulfillment of the prophecy of Isa. 7:8, which was uttered in 734 B.C. (II Kings 17:24 ). This procedure by the Assyrians effectively stifled nationalistic spirit and created a syncretistic religion [i.e. a blending of two or more religious systems into one new system]. Zerubbabel and Joshua refused the offer of help.

 

Isaiah 7:8 For the head of Syria is Damascus, and the head of Damascus is Rezin; and within threescore and five years [i.e. 65 years] shall Ephraim [i.e. Israel, the Northern Kingdom] be broken, that it be not a people.

 

The enemies of Judah and Benjamin refer to the people living in Palestine since the time of the fall of the Northern Kingdom in 722 B.C. The Assyrian Empire, which conquered the 10 Northern tribes, deported some of the people away to Assyria and brought in other peoples to intermarry (II Kings 17:23-24 ). This tactic prevented strong nationalistic uprisings in the conquered lands (BKC).

 

II Kings 17:23-2423 Until the LORD removed Israel out of his sight, as he had said by all his servants the prophets. So was Israel carried away out of their own land to Assyria unto this day. 24 And the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon, and from Cuthah, and from Ava, and from Hamath, and from Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel: and they possessed Samaria, and dwelt in the cities thereof.

 

The “enemies” (called “the peoples around them,” Ezra 4:4 ) were the descendants of these mixed peoples and the forefathers of the New Testament Samaritans. These people in Ezra’s day claimed that they worshiped the same God, that is, Yahweh, the God of Israel. But they had a syncretistic form of worship; they worshiped both Yahweh and others (II Kings 17:29 ; 32-34, 41). Therefore their statement (Ezra 4:2 ) was not fully accurate and was apparently made to mislead the leadership of the returned band. Esarhaddon, king of Assyria, who brought us here, was the Assyrian monarch who aggressively pursued the policy of partial deportation and to whose reign these enemies could trace their ancestry in Palestine. Esarhaddon, a son of Sennacherib, ruled from 681 to 669 B.C. Some people, however, had been displaced into Samaria earlier by the Assyrian kings Sargon II (722-705) and Sennacherib (705-681). Judah and Benjamin’s enemies were also appealing on the basis of the fact that they, like the Jews, were a “displaced people,” having been brought in from the outside. In a sense they were downplaying the nation of Israel’s “roots” in the land (BKC).

 

II Kings 17:29 Howbeit every nation made gods of their own, and put them in the houses of the high places which the Samaritans had made, every nation in their cities wherein they dwelt.

 

II Kings 17:32-3432 So they feared the LORD, and made unto themselves of the lowest of them priests of the high places, which sacrificed for them in the houses of the high places. 33 They feared the LORD, and served their own gods, after the manner of the nations whom they carried away from thence. 34 Unto this day they do after the former manners: they fear not the LORD, neither do they after their statutes, or after their ordinances, or after the law and commandment which the LORD commanded the children of Jacob, whom he named Israel.

 

II Kings 17:41 So these nations feared the LORD, and served their graven images, both their children, and their children’s children: as did their fathers, so do they unto this day.

Ezra 4:3 But Zerubbabel, and Jeshua [i.e. Joshua], and the rest of the chief of the fathers of Israel, said unto them, Ye have nothing to do with us to build an house unto our God; but we ourselves together will build unto the LORD God of Israel, as king Cyrus the king of Persia hath commanded us.

Ezra 4:4 Then the people of the land weakened the hands of the people of Judah [i.e. discouraged the people of Judah, tried to discourage the people of Judah], and troubled them in building [i.e. and frightened them from building],

Ezra 4:5 And hired counsellors against them, to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia [521-486 B.C.].

 

4:5 – (RSB) hired counsellors. Probably public relations experts at the court in Shushan. Since Daniel was dead, the Jews had no one at court to counter the enemies’ propaganda.

us king of Persia [521-486 B.C.].

 

4:5 – (RSB) hired counsellors. Probably public relations experts at the court in Shushan. Since Daniel was dead, the Jews had no one at court to counter the enemies’ propaganda.

Scriptures
Series

This sermon is the 2nd part of the series, Study of Ezra. Other sermons in this series are: