This is Episode #141 and today we’ll read Ezra chapters 1-3 together. The Lord roused the spirit of King Cyrus of Persia.
Joy: You’re listening to Season 2 of the Lifting Her Voice podcast. This is Episode #141 and today we’ll read Ezra chapters 1-3 together. The Lord roused the spirit of King Cyrus of Persia.
Welcome to the Lifting Her Voice podcast, Season 2! I’m your host, Joy Miller, and I invite you to grab your Bible and join me – from the beginning – simply reading God’s word together. We built some spiritual muscles in 2020 with just the New Testament. But this year we’re going all out, cover-to-cover, Old Testament and New. So, whether with your first cup in the morning, your commute to work, or as the last thing on your mind before sleep, God’s Word will equip you for every good work. I’m really glad you’re here!
Intro to Ezra
Welcome to the post-exile book of Ezra! There is a lot about which scholars disagree regarding this book, including whether or not Ezra even wrote it. But most agree that he wrote at least part of it, Nehemiah, and – as you recall – much of the Chronicles. Chapter 7 tells us that Ezra is a descendent of Aaron, so we know he’s a priest. But remember, the Israelites have been in captivity for about 70 years. Being a priest probably didn’t hold the same significance to a kid who may not even have been born at the time Jerusalem was destroyed. No so for Ezra. As we read, notice his attention to detail, his insistence that genealogies be provable, and his devotion to following God’s laws precisely, especially regarding worship. From Ezra’s perspective, the temple was key.
Note that chapters 1-6 of the book cover Cyrus’s edict that the Israelites should return to rebuild Jerusalem which was before Ezra’s time. Then, chapters 7-10 occur sixty years later when Ezra leads the second group of exiles back to the Promised Land. The book of Ezra provides an important link to a nation that no longer existed but that a repentant Israel desperately wanted to reestablish.
Ezra Chapter 1
The Decree of Cyrus
In the first year of King Cyrus of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken through Jeremiah, the Lord roused the spirit of King Cyrus to issue a proclamation throughout his entire kingdom and to put it in writing:
This is what King Cyrus of Persia says: “The Lord, the God of the heavens, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and has appointed me to build him a house at Jerusalem in Judah. Any of his people among you, may his God be with him, and may he go to Jerusalem in Judah and build the house of the Lord, the God of Israel, the God who is in Jerusalem. Let every survivor, wherever he resides, be assisted by the men of that region with silver, gold, goods, and livestock, along with a freewill offering for the house of God in Jerusalem.”
Return from Exile
So the family heads of Judah and Benjamin, along with the priests and Levites — everyone whose spirit God had roused — prepared to go up and rebuild the Lord’s house in Jerusalem. All their neighbors supported them with silver articles, gold, goods, livestock, and valuables, in addition to all that was given as a freewill offering. King Cyrus also brought out the articles of the Lord’s house that Nebuchadnezzar had taken from Jerusalem and had placed in the house of his gods. King Cyrus of Persia had them brought out under the supervision of Mithredath the treasurer, who counted them out to Sheshbazzar the prince of Judah. This was the inventory:
30 gold basins, 1,000 silver basins,
29 silver knives, 30 gold bowls,
410 various silver bowls, and 1,000 other articles.
The gold and silver articles totaled 5,400. Sheshbazzar brought all of them when the exiles went up from Babylon to Jerusalem.
Ezra Chapter 2
The Exiles Who Returned
These now are the people of the province who came from those captive exiles King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had deported to Babylon. They returned to Jerusalem and Judah, each to his own town. They came with Zerubbabel, Jeshua, Nehemiah, Seraiah, Reelaiah, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispar, Bigvai, Rehum, and Baanah.
The number of the Israelite men included
Parosh’s descendants | 2,172
Shephatiah’s descendants | 372
Arah’s descendants | 775
Jeshua’s and Joab’s descendants | 2,812
Elam’s descendants | 1,254
Zattu’s descendants | 945
Zaccai’s descendants | 760
Bani’s descendants | 642
Bebai’s descendants | 623
Azgad’s descendants | 1,222
Adonikam’s descendants | 666
Bigvai’s descendants | 2,056
Adin’s descendants | 454
Ater’s descendants: of Hezekiah | 98
Bezai’s descendants | 323
Jorah’s descendants | 112
Hashum’s descendants | 223
Gibbar’s descendants | 95
Bethlehem’s people | 123
Netophah’s men | 56
Anathoth’s men | 128
Azmaveth’s people | 42
Kiriatharim’s, Chephirah’s, and Beeroth’s people | 743
Ramah’sand Geba’s people | 621
Michmas’s men | 122
Bethel’s and Ai’smen | 223
Nebo’s people | 52
Magbish’s people | 156
the other Elam’s people | 1,254
Harim’s people | 320
Lod’s, Hadid’s, and Ono’s people | 725
Jericho’s people | 345
Senaah’s people | 3,630
The priests included
Jedaiah’s descendants of the house of Jeshua | 973
Immer’s descendants | 1,052
Pashhur’s descendants | 1,247
and Harim’s descendants | 1,017
The Levites included
Jeshua’s and Kadmiel’s descendants
from Hodaviah’s descendants | 74
The singers included
Asaph’s descendants | 128
The gatekeepers’ descendants included
Shallum’s descendants, Ater’s descendants,
Talmon’s descendants, Akkub’s descendants,
Hatita’s descendants, Shobai’s descendants, in all | 139
The Temple Servants
The temple servants included
Ziha’s descendants, Hasupha’s descendants,
Tabbaoth’s descendants, Keros’s descendants,
Siaha’s descendants, Padon’s descendants,
Lebanah’s descendants, Hagabah’s descendants,
Akkub’s descendants, Hagab’s descendants,
Shalmai’s descendants, Hanan’s descendants,
Giddel’s descendants, Gahar’s descendants,
Reaiah’s descendants, Rezin’s descendants,
Nekoda’s descendants, Gazzam’s descendants,
Uzza’s descendants, Paseah’s descendants,
Besai’s descendants, Asnah’s descendants,
Meunim’s descendants, Nephusim’s descendants,
Bakbuk’s descendants, Hakupha’s descendants,
Harhur’s descendants, Bazluth’s descendants,
Mehida’s descendants, Harsha’s descendants,
Barkos’s descendants, Sisera’s descendants,
Temah’s descendants, Neziah’s descendants,
and Hatipha’s descendants.
The descendants of Solomon’s servants included
Sotai’s descendants, Hassophereth’s descendants,
Peruda’s descendants,Jaalah’s descendants,
Darkon’s descendants, Giddel’s descendants,
Shephatiah’s descendants, Hattil’s descendants,
Pochereth-hazzebaim’s descendants, and Ami’s descendants.
All the temple servants
and the descendants of Solomon’s servants | 392.
The following are those who came from Tel-melah, Tel-harsha, Cherub, Addan, and Immer but were unable to prove that their ancestral families and their lineage were Israelite:
Nekoda’s descendants | 652
and from the descendants of the priests: the descendants of Hobaiah, the descendants of Hakkoz, the descendants of Barzillai — who had taken a wife from the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite and who bore their name. These searched for their entries in the genealogical records, but they could not be found, so they were disqualified from the priesthood. The governor ordered them not to eat the most holy things until there was a priest who could consult the Urim and Thummim.
The whole combined assembly numbered | 42,360
not including their 7,337 male and female servants,
and their 200 male and female singers.
They had 736 horses, 245 mules,
435 camels, and 6,720 donkeys.
Gifts for the Work
After they arrived at the Lord’s house in Jerusalem, some of the family heads gave freewill offerings for the house of God in order to have it rebuilt on its original site. Based on what they could give, they gave 61,000 gold coins, 6,250 pounds of silver, and 100 priestly garments to the treasury for the project. The priests, Levites, singers, gatekeepers, temple servants, and some of the people settled in their towns, and the rest of Israel settled in their towns.
Ezra Chapter 3
When the seventh month arrived, and the Israelites were in their towns, the people gathered as one in Jerusalem. Jeshua son of Jozadak and his brothers the priests along with Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and his brothers began to build the altar of Israel’s God in order to offer burnt offerings on it, as it is written in the law of Moses, the man of God. They set up the altar on its foundation and offered burnt offerings for the morning and evening on it to the Lord even though they feared the surrounding peoples.
They celebrated the Festival of Shelters as prescribed, and offered burnt offerings each day, based on the number specified by ordinance for each festival day. After that, they offered the regular burnt offering and the offerings for the beginning of each month and for all the Lord’s appointed holy occasions, as well as the freewill offerings brought to the Lord.
On the first day of the seventh month they began to offer burnt offerings to the Lord, even though the foundation of the Lord’s temple had not yet been laid. They gave money to the stonecutters and artisans, and gave food, drink, and oil to the people of Sidon and Tyre, so they would bring cedar wood from Lebanon to Joppa by sea, according to the authorization given them by King Cyrus of Persia.
Rebuilding the Temple
In the second month of the second year after they arrived at God’s house in Jerusalem, Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, Jeshua son of Jozadak, and the rest of their brothers, including the priests, the Levites, and all who had returned to Jerusalem from the captivity, began to build. They appointed the Levites who were twenty years old or more to supervise the work on the Lord’s house. Jeshua with his sons and brothers, Kadmiel with his sons, and the sons of Judah and of Henadad, with their sons and brothers, the Levites, joined together to supervise those working on the house of God.
Temple Foundation Completed
When the builders had laid the foundation of the Lord’s temple, the priests, dressed in their robes and holding trumpets, and the Levites descended from Asaph, holding cymbals, took their positions to praise the Lord, as King David of Israel had instructed. They sang with praise and thanksgiving to the Lord: “For he is good; his faithful love to Israel endures forever.” Then all the people gave a great shout of praise to the Lord because the foundation of the Lord’s house had been laid.
But many of the older priests, Levites, and family heads, who had seen the first temple, wept loudly when they saw the foundation of this temple, but many others shouted joyfully. The people could not distinguish the sound of the joyful shouting from that of the weeping, because the people were shouting so loudly. And the sound was heard far away.
I think it is so cool that God would use a powerful Gentile king to end the exile of the Jews. I have so many questions. Did he take a lot of flack for that decision? How did God ‘rouse his spirit’? I mean think about it. It would have been so easy for Cyrus to, say, wake up from a dream and say, “Nah, must have been something I ate,” and then just ignore the prompting. What did ‘rousing his spirit’ look like? I just think this is kinda random but interesting. Just like our God, I guess. He’s never one to do things by the book. What do you think? Let me know at Lifting Her Voice.com, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.
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Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible(r), Copyright (c) 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible(r) and CSB(r) are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
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